Regular physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and is vital for life. It gives us strength, healthy bones and joints and the good circulation we need for our best cardiovascular health and other bodily functions such as digestion and detoxification.
In addition to its wide reaching physical benefits, regular movement supports a healthy brain, allowing you to learn, think, concentrate and have a positive mental outlook. It is one of the best ways to reduce depression, anxiety and stress since it stimulates the release of endorphins and other brain chemicals. Without regular movement our bodies simply can’t perform optimally. Sedentary behaviors worsen chronic health conditions and doubles the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and increase the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety. So what is the recommended amount of movement and how can you start? This all depends on your current ability and health. Be sure to work with your health care professional before engaging in any new exercise program to ensure safety, especially if you have a chronic health condition.
If you have physical limitations, don’t be discouraged. Even small amounts of gentle to moderate movement have many health benefits. Focus on what you can do and not on what you can. Adding the right type of movement into your life can be a powerful, enjoyable and natural way to reduce symptoms and feel better. It truly is medicine for the body in the right doses. The CDC’s exercise guidelines recommend that adults do moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for two hours and 30 minutes every week. This can include brisk walking, biking or mowing the lawn. In addition, they suggest adding muscle strengthening on two or more days a week through activities such as using weight machines, resistance bands or body weight exercises. Movement isn’t just about exercise. It’s about you having the ability to do whatever activities you want to do to enjoy life such as golfing, going on nature walks or keeping up with your grandchildren. The best way to start an exercise program is to find something that you love. When you find movement activities you enjoy, exercising becomes fun and time flies by. Do you like to spend time with friends? Why not find a buddy to go to a yoga class or start a walking group with a few friends? Do you like to dance? Then turn up the music and move your body to your favorite songs. Be inventive and have fun with it. The more fun it is, the more likely you are to stick with it!
If you’re not getting enough activity in your day, it’s not too late to turn things around. You can make big improvements to your health and energy levels by making small and deliberate choices that involve moving a little more every day. Even brief bouts of activity offer benefits. For instance, if you can’t fit in one 30-minute walk during the day, try a few five-minute walks instead.
Some other ways you can start to increase movement are:
– Leave the car at home and walk when you can
– Park in the back of the parking lot and walk to the stor
– Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator
– Go for a brisk walk instead of watching TV
– Power walk around the perimeter of the mall on rainy days
In addition to getting enough movement, reducing sitting time is important, too. The average person sits for up to 10-13 hours a day and we are simply not designed for this. Humans are built to stand upright and your heart and cardiovascular system and digestive system work more effectively that way. The more hours you sit each day, the higher your risk of health problems. And here is a surprising fact, even if you get the recommended amount of daily physical activity, sitting too much can negatively impact your physical and mental health and longevity. You may have heard some health professionals referring to sitting as the new smoking and recognize sitting to be a national health crisis. However, while you can make the healthy lifestyle choice not to smoke, we all have to sit! So what can we do to reduce the amount of time we are sitting?
Here are just a few ideas to help:
– Take short breaks from sitting and stand up about every 30 minutes. Get a glass of water, visit the bathroom or take a walk around your house or office
– When watching TV, stand up and take a walk or stretch you body during every commercial break.
– Stand whenever you read a text or when you talk on the phone.
– Set an alarm on your cell phone to remind you to get up and move at least every hour.
In closing, movement is essential to living a healthier, happier and longer life. I hope this information helps you realize that being active may not be as hard as you think. There are many simple ways to include some physical activity in your day and any sort of movement is better than none at all. What’s most important is making regular physical activity part of your lifestyle.