If your New Year’s resolution to get more exercise this year has come and gone, it’s not too late. Maybe you’re still not ready to join the gym or get in 10,000 steps a day, but you are ready to do something, so just start moving. Starting small may be the easiest way to get exercise and reap the benefits of better health.
Where can you start? Here are five fun and easy ways to get moving!
Take a walk. Studies show that walking offers many powerful health benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Improve your mood and outlook by walking more than you do right now. Walking 22 minutes per day adds up to over 2.5 hours per week and will improve your health.
Work your muscles. Begin activities that make your muscles work harder than usual, such as weightlifting, resistance bands, or muscle-strengthening activities. Even taking the stairs regularly can strengthen leg muscles. Strength training is especially important for women. Research shows that strengthening the bones helps prevent osteoporosis. The best exercise is the one you enjoy—you’ll stick with it if you’re having fun. Find an activity that works for your routine and commit to making it a habit.
Make chores count. Everyday chores that involve walking, standing, and stretching for several minutes at a time go a long way. New evidence suggests any amount of physical activity throughout your day, for example parking at the far end of the lot and walking in between errands are choices that can add up and make a positive difference to your health.
Get outdoors. The change of season gets us outdoors and inspires us to be more active. Spring is the perfect time to go outdoors and get moving. Whether it’s gardening, walking the dog, or mowing lawns, try to get outdoors regularly and activity will follow.
Take a stand. We’ve heard from health experts that sitting is the new smoking. Sitting for prolonged periods has been linked to poor posture, “brain fog,” and many more serious and preventable diseases. Set a reminder to get up at least once every hour and stretch or take a short walk. (This infographic provides more tips and information on the risks associated with prolonged sitting too long).
Guidelines call for adults to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity and two days a week of muscle-strengthening activity. You can take short 10-15 minute moderately paced walks and do calf raises while brushing your teeth. Start small and remember some physical activity is better than none.
Consult with your doctor before getting started to ensure your activity plan is right for you. And be sure to take advantage of wellness events and resources offered by our CalPERS health plans. Many of these events are free and open to the public.
When we move more, we have better heart health, we are stronger and less susceptible to disease, and we feel better.
Start now and get moving!
Sources: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes for Health.