Post date: 5/29/2019
According to the CDC, one in four adults sit for more than eight hours a day. While a little rest and relaxation is fine here and there, living a completely sedentary life can be dangerous for your health. Increasing your physical activity at any age can help lower your risk factors for serious health conditions. Even something as simple as a daily walk around the block or a quick fifteen-minute exercise routine can help you live healthy for years to come.
Here are seven reasons to move every day for the good of your overall health and wellbeing.
The endorphins released during exercise not only help you feel better—they help you think better, too. Better concentration and mental sharpness are just two of the many cognitive benefits of physical activity. Physical activity has even been shown to stimulate the growth of new brain cells and improve neuronal health by improving the delivery of oxygen and nutrients. Emerging research also shows a link between exercise and the prevention of age-related cognitive decline.
Time and time again, research has shown that inactivity is one of the main risk factors for weight gain and obesity. By increasing your physical activity, you can keep these conditions at bay. Regular exercise increases your metabolic rate, otherwise known as your metabolism. While our metabolisms naturally slow over time, staying active can help maintain a healthy metabolism at any age.
Physical activity boosts cardiovascular health, which gives you more endurance throughout the day. More endurance makes it easier to do the tasks that your daily life requires without feeling worn out when all is said and done.
Turns out that the best way to get a good night’s sleep is to stay active during the day. Physical activity in the morning and early afternoon can reset your sleep-wake cycle, allowing it to trigger sleepiness a few hours later. While exercising at night isn’t generally recommended, as it can delay sleep, some people find that a nighttime trip to the gym is just what they need for a full restful night’s sleep.
As we age, our bones can become weak and fragile. This causes a condition called osteoporosis, where bones lose density and the risk of fracture increases. The good news is, as little as 30 minutes of physical activity each day can help strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis. Weight-bearing activities such as walking, jogging and climbing stairs are great places to start.
Chronic pain can often be debilitating. It may seem counterintuitive, but moving more can actually reduce your pain more than bedrest ever could. This is because physical activity helps to break your brain and body out of a continuous pain-signaling loop. It’s best to stick to low-impact aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, cycling and stretching if you’re living with chronic pain. Even taking a walk around the house can help. While you may feel discomfort during physical activity, you shouldn’t feel intense pain. If you do, there’s no harm in stopping and waiting until you feel a little better to resume the activity.
Moving more isn’t just good for your body—it’s good for your mind, too. In fact, walking is one of the many lifestyle remedies for depression. Physical activity sends a signal for your brain to release endorphins. These chemicals are responsible for feelings of happiness, calm and well-being. Endorphins also have pain-relieving and immune-boosting qualities. People with chronic pain conditions and people with depression often have lower than normal levels of endorphins. Increasing your physical activity and living a healthy lifestyle are key when it comes to improving your mood and managing these conditions.
Now that you know the benefits of moving every day, you may be asking “how can I make this work for me?” The good news is, anything goes when it comes to physical activity. You don’t need to be a fitness maven to reap the benefits of an active lifestyle. But, if you’ve been inactive for a long time, it’s best to start slowly in order to reduce your risk of injury. Before starting any sort of routine, talk with your doctor or physical therapist to determine if your planned physical activity contradicts with any health conditions or risks for injury. Here are a few easy things to do and resources to try when it comes to physical activity.
Even small changes to your daily routine can make a big impact on your health. And, if you stick to them, they can help you start a new, healthier lifestyle. Try any of the following tips to add a bit more physical activity to your day-to-day life.
You don’t need expensive equipment or even a gym membership to exercise. Many exercises can be done at home, either with no equipment or with items you likely already own. For example, you can substitute dumbbells with cans of food from the pantry. Some easy and useful exercises include:
Chair squats: Squats strengthen your lower body and core. Utilizing a chair ensures you can complete the full exercise with a lower risk of injury. As you improve with squats, you can remove the chair from the equation. Start by standing directly in front of a chair, facing away from it. Then, push your hips back and bend your knees to lower your body towards the chair. You can either aim to simply touch the chair or to sit down completely. At the end of the squat, push through your feet and squeeze your glutes to stand up and return to the starting position.
Wall push-ups: This exercise helps to improve upper-body strength, particularly in the arms and chest. Stand about two feet away from the wall, and put your hands against the wall at shoulder height. Keeping your body straight, carefully bend your elbows to lower your chest to the wall. Pause, then press through your hands to straighten your elbows.
Side lying circles: To strengthen your hips and improve joint mobility, try this simple move. Lie on your side with your body in a straight line, resting your head on your arm. Keeping your hips in line with each other, lift your top leg to about hip height and move it in small clockwise circles. Then, switch to counterclockwise circles. Repeat on the opposite side.
When the weather permits, taking a walk around the block is a great way to get active and get some fresh air in the process. As you build up your stamina, you may opt to walk instead of drive for short trips to a friend’s house or to the store.
You can bring your walking activities indoors when the temperatures are too high, or too low, for walking outdoors. An indoor mall is a great place to get some climate-controlled steps in, and it provides enough people-watching and window shopping to keep your mind occupied as well.
There are other things you can do to make sure you get a few more steps in every day. These include:
When summer’s in full swing, you may not want to spend much time exercising outdoors. Thankfully, swimming is a great way to cool off and get active at the same time. Low-impact water workouts like lap swimming, water aerobics and aqua jogging are easy on the joints and healthy for the body.
Dancing is a fun way to stay active and improve the strength of your upper, lower and core muscle groups. Core muscles are particularly important for stability and balance, key aspects of fall prevention. Don’t worry if you’ve never danced before—many classes are designed for beginners.
Some people find that fitness is much more fun as a group activity. Fitness classes are an easy way to get moving and meet new friends in the process. Sun Health Wellness provides a variety of fitness classes to the community at low costs.
Some of our most popular classes include:
A traditional Chinese martial art that can improve strength and balance.
A safe and fun class that incorporates traditional yoga practices with the support and stability of a chair.
A low-intensity class that uses bands, body weight and other techniques to train your upper- and lower-body muscle groups.
Physical activity is just one of the many aspects of a healthy, happy life. At Sun Health Wellness, we provide health coaching, fitness consultations and a variety of wellness classes and services to the community. It’s all part of our mission to champion healthy living and superior health care in our community. No matter where you are on your wellness journey, our services can help you meet your goals.