Staying active is one of the best ways to maintain your health and lower your risk of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Of course, being active doesn’t mean you have to head to the gym every day or run sprints every time you decide to work out. Instead, choose activities that you enjoy and move at a pace that feels comfortable for you.
Stay Active throughout the Day
Start by adding simple activities into your routine, such as walking laps around the office, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking 5-10 minutes to stretch at your desk. If you are at home, you can go for a neighborhood walk, run a couple errands, or even just take a few laps around the house. Set a timer to remind yourself to get up and move for a few minutes every hour.
Add Variety to Your Exercise Routine
In addition to staying active throughout the day, try to add some structured exercises to your weekly routine to experience the health benefits listed below:
- Walking, swimming, cycling and running: Cardio exercises increase your heart rate, help you maintain a healthy weight and decrease your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
- Yoga or stretching: Helps you stay flexible, decreases your risk of injuries, boosts blood flow to your muscles, and eases tension. It is also a good way to relax.
- Weightlifting, resistance bands and bodyweight exercise: Keeps your bones strong (proven to prevent bone-thinning), prevents muscle loss, improves blood sugar control, balance, sleep, and mental health.
- Tai Chi or exercises performed standing on one foot: Improves balance, which can prevent serious injuries from falls. This type of exercise can also help with joint pain and muscle relaxation.
You’re more likely to stick to regular exercise if you change up your routine once in a while and work out with a friend who will hold you accountable. Attend a new class at your local gym, go for a swim at the public pool or invite a friend to go walk a local trail. Adding more movement to your day not only lowers your risk for diseases, but can also reduce stress, improve your mood and help you sleep better at night. Above all, staying active will help you live a longer, healthier and more independent life.
3 Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before You Start Exercising
Always ask your doctor before starting any new exercise program or changing your fitness routine. Here are three important questions to ask:
- Are there any exercises or activities I should avoid?
- Is my preventive care up to date?
- How do my health conditions affect my ability to exercise?
Sources: National Institute on Aging, WebMD