Spring is in the air and summer is just around the corner — what better time to get in shape, lose weight or increase your physical endurance? Did you know regular physical activity increases your chance of living a longer, healthier life? It also reduces your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and some types of cancer. Yet many people do not get the recommended amount of physical activity their bodies need.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults:
- Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Moderate activity includes things like walking fast, dancing, swimming and raking leaves.
- Do muscle-strengthening activities – like lifting weights or using exercise bands – at least two days a week.
Throughout the month of May, challenge yourself to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Even if it is just taking a stroll after dinner; every bit counts.
Taking care of your body throughout life is important. Regular activity unlocks several physical, as well as mental and emotional, benefits. It is common knowledge that exercising can make you feel better.
Regular physical activity can:
- Boost self-confidence
- Ease depression, stress and anxiety
- Help reduce symptoms of ADHD, PTSD and trauma
- Support a better night’s sleep
- Increase energy levels
- Aid coping mechanisms in other areas in life when faced with a challenge
- Sharpen memory and improve thought processes
One of the biggest challenges for people is carving out time to exercise. In the morning before work, during a lunch break or immediately after work are some of the most convenient options for those who work Monday through Friday. People often feel mentally exhausted after a long day of work, which can be confused for feeling physically beat. So it is important to find an exercise routine that’s enjoyable, fun and won’t get boring. Whether it is running outside, going to the gym, swimming or taking a Pilates class — do what is best for your body and lifestyle, but challenge yourself to rise to the challenge and get more active. Don’t work out because you dislike your body; exercise because you love it!
Below are some alternative ways to incorporate movement into your daily life:
1. Skip the dessert and stroll instead. Instead of taking the time to eat extra, unnecessary calories after dinner, take a walk with your family. Walking after dinner can become a nice ritual and will give you some much-needed family time together. Start with 5 to 10 minutes and work up to 30 minutes as your endurance progresses.
2. Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you have the chance.
3. Tune into fitness instead of TV. The time spent sitting on the couch watching one TV show could often include a half-hour of exercise. The next time you are watching your favorite TV show, walk or jog in place or use the treadmill instead.
4. Park in the farthest parking spot to gain some extra cardio.
5. Make a half-hour playlist of your favorite songs and dance.
6. If it is too cold or rainy to exercise outside, hit the mall instead. Give your heart a workout in a climate-controlled environment while you window shop.
7. Walk your dog. Spending time with man’s best friend is a wonderful activity. Your heart and your pup will thank you, too.
8. Join a local sports team. Pick an activity you love and join other adults your age who will keep you motivated and accountable.
9. Start a walking club with co-workers. During your lunch break, lace up those tennis shoes and take a walk outside together. When you have other people depending on you, it will help to keep you accountable for your actions. Plus, walking with work friends is a great way to catch up and destress.