Get Active for your Health
Most of us are aware that physical activity can help us live longer, healthier lives. Moving more and sitting less can reduce our risk for many serious conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain kinds of cancer. Some studies suggest that physical activity can have mental benefits as well, helping to relieve depression and maintain thinking abilities as you age.
Even though most of us know that physical activity is good for us, most adults don’t meet even the minimum recommended amounts of physical activity.
Get Active Anywhere
You don’t need to join a gym or purchase costly equipment to be physically active – healthful physical activity includes exercise as well as many everyday activities, such as doing active chores around the house, yard work, or walking the dog. Aerobic activities – those that cause you to breathe harder and make your heart and blood vessels healthier – include brisk walking, dancing, swimming, and playing sports. Strengthening activities – like pushups and lifting weights – help make your muscles and bones stronger and can also improve your balance.
Even though most of us know that physical activity is good for us, most adults don’t meet even the minimum recommended amounts of physical activity (at least 30 minutes of brisk walking or other moderate activity, five days a week).
Why Don’t Most Adults Get Active?
Why aren’t most of us more active? Lack of time is a common reason for not exercising. Another important factor is our environment. According to National Institutes of Health (NIH) research, where you live, work, or go to school can have a big impact on how much you move and even how much you weigh.
Some communities don’t have safe playgrounds or sidewalks, so kids tend to stay indoors, making it harder to maintain a healthy weight. Many adults sit behind the wheel driving to work, then sit most of the day at a computer. In suburban neighborhoods, people often have to drive to grocery stores and shops rather than walking.
Having places to walk and have fun can help more people get moving and get active. “It’s not just dangerous neighborhoods, broken streets, and crime that can keep people indoors and away from being physically active,” says Dr. Allen Glicksman, director of research at the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging. “If a neighborhood has someplace nice to walk to – desirable destinations like a book store, grocery store, coffee shop, a place to eat or meet – it can have a healthful effect on how much people weigh and how much they walk.”
How Could Changing your Enviromnent Help You Get Active?
So take a look around your environment, your workplace, or your school and think of changes that might make your surroundings more inviting for walking or exercise. Steps might include improving local parks, and requesting safe and usable bike paths and sidewalks. If you have ideas for improving your surroundings, discuss them with local leaders.
An Easy Way to Get Active
Although your environment can affect how active you are, you can still add movement to your day. Get up from your chair and move around at least once an hour – set an alarm or a reminder if necessary. Walk to a colleague’s office instead of sending an email. Try standing instead of sitting while you’re on the phone. Take a brisk walk on your lunch break. Remember – it’s not necessary to engage in vigorous physical activity to reap health benefits. Just 30 minutes of brisk walking, in at least 10-minute segments, can have positive effects. Look for opportunities to add activity in your day – it may be simpler than you think!
Although your environment can affect how active you are, you can still add movement to your day.