Wowza! Have you stopped to consider how many hours a day you sit? You sit when you drive and at work you sit at the computer and at meetings. Then, you sit again to watch television, plus there’s mealtimes. Phew! Living a sedentary lifestyle could be causing you more harm than you realize.
But, you’re not worried because you exercise a few times a week. That’s good! But, consider this – being ‘active’ and ‘doing exercise’ are two different things. (Insider Scoop: We need to do both.) Even those who work out a few times per week could still be living a sedentary lifestyle. Yikes! Let’s get moving.
Is Sitting the New Smoking?
Could your sedentary lifestyle really be posing a greater risk to your health than smoking? Yes, says researchers from the Cleveland Clinic. They studied more than 122,000 patients and discovered that not exercising is as bad for you as smoking. And, a lot of us are doing it! Only 23 percent of Americans are meeting national guidelines for physical activity, reported the Centre for Disease Control. Worldwide there are over 1.4 billion people who are physically inactive.
Why You Should Exercise Regularly
Surprisingly, moving your body has some serious effects on your body. It can even improve how you feel within minutes! Exercising helps you be a better version of you.
Benefits of Doing Exercise:
- Improve your mood
- Boost self esteem
- Lose weight
- Boost your energy levels
- Help you sleep better
- Reduce chronic pain
- Lessen hot flashes
- Enhance cognitive function
- Slow progression type 2 diabetes
- Reduce your risk of heart disease
How Much Exercise Do We Need?
There are guidelines for how much exercise American adults should get. Each week being active in a way that makes you moderately increase your breathing and heart rate (light sweat) for 2.5 hours, really increase your breathing or heart rate (heavy sweating) for a total of over an hour, and in addition, doing a few activities that work your muscles (resistance or weight-bearing). This may seem like a lot. It’s really just 30 minutes a day. And, it has huge potential.
Getting a little sweat even just twice a week might offer you great health benefits – ones that may help you live healthier for longer! A study in the Journal of Physiology found that even just casual exercise done two to three times per week was enough to keep arteries (like the carotid) from stiffening as we age. Arterial stiffening is a hallmark of vascular aging. The best results were found among the adults (who were over 60) in the study who exercised 4-5 days a week over their lifetime – they were more likely to preserve youthful blood vessels. It’s good to sweat daily!
How to Start Working Out?
Want to start today? Tie up those running shoes and start walking. “Walk with a purpose …get to the point where you are breathy (where it’s a little hard to speak),” says Jamie Costello, Director of Fitness at the Pritikin Center. “Moderate, progressive goals are how you reach your target – that’s how habits are formed, and lifestyle habits are made.”
What’s the Best Exercise?
First, you need to figure out where you are at. There are tons of activity trackers out there to help, from apps on your phone to watches. There are even jewelry and rings. Yes, there is exercise bling! “Once you know your activity level, you can set your first goal for improvement. Keep it small – such as adding 500 steps per day, then slowly build up once you’re successful,” suggests Costello. Being active doesn’t have to carve out a huge chunk of your day. Try 10 minutes of mini-moves (side steps, marches) or walking before work, 10 minutes at a break or lunch, and 10 minutes after dinner. Boom – that’s 30 minutes!
“Ten thousand steps is the gold standard by most experts, but moderate and vigorous exercise need to fit in there too!”. Exercising, where you go for a fitness walk to get your heart rate up, is also important. Getting your heart beating, and lungs pumping is something your body craves – it needs to be used to be at its best. A fitness coach can help you define what’s best for you, and customize training goals. “At Pritkin, we dial into the more detailed individual needs,” explains Costello.
It can start right now. Stand up. Take a stroll. Walk down the hall. March on the spot. Moving today brings a better you tomorrow. And, remember to be proud each time you are active – you did it! You made yourself healthier – one step at a time.
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