The health benefits associated with regular physical activity are endless, yet many Americans still aren’t getting the amount of exercise they need to stay healthy. Exercise plays an important role in helping to prevent many chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, and cancer, and even boosts your mental health so you feel less stressed and more relaxed on a consistent basis.
It can be difficult to be more active if you’re busy with work, school, raising a family, and other activities, but don’t let a busy schedule hold you back from experiencing the powerful health benefits of exercise! If you’re struggling with making it to the gym every day, or just can’t seem to find extra time for exercise, there are countless inventive ways to add more physical activity to your day.
Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of increasing your activity, along with creative ways to add more activity into each and every day.
The importance of staying active
Evidence suggests that sitting down for long periods of time is a major risk factor for early death, even if you have a dedicated workout routine and are highly active at other times of the day. But getting up to move around every 30 minutes can help you lower your risk of premature death, and allows you to benefit from a lower risk of chronic disease. A recent study shows that staying active is linked to more than a 50% reduction in cardiovascular disease.
Exercise increases blood flow and circulation, improving organ function and helping move nutrients more efficiently throughout the body. Exercise also helps you sleep better at night and helps balance your hormones and brain chemistry, which combats symptoms of anxiety and depression.
When you can’t shift things around in your schedule to to go for a run or hit the gym, make an effort to move around every 30 minutes to help ward off serious chronic illness. Try these tips for getting more activity into every day.
Exercising at work
- Consider walking or biking to work if you live close enough. These cardio exercises promote blood and oxygen flow, and can help you clear your head before and after your work hours. If you don’t live close enough to walk but you can take the bus, get off the bus at an earlier stop and walk the rest of the way.
- Always take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator to boost your heart rate and promote fat burning. If you work in a high-rise building, take the elevator for part of the way, then navigate up or down flights of stairs to get in a quick workout.
- Take frequent short breaks to walk around the office or climb several flights of stairs.
- Walk around during your lunch break instead of sitting at your desk or in the nearest break room. Consider walking to a nearby cafe to eat your lunch, or take laps around the building after you’ve finished eating.
- Avoid texting, instant messaging, or emailing people in the office when you have quick questions, and visit their desks instead.
- Stand up when you’re talking on the telephone to stretch your legs, and pace around, if possible. You might also consider using the speakerphone option so you can walk around freely, or a bluetooth earpiece so you can stay active while conducting business.
- Consider using a standing desk. Find one that can be adjusted so you can use the desk while sitting or standing.
Exercising at home
- Take frequent breaks while watching television to get up and walk around, or do sets of body weight exercises during commercial breaks.
- Keep elastic bands, free weights, and other workout equipment in your living room so you can do reps while watching your favorite movies and shows.
- Consider getting an elliptical, treadmill, or stationary bike for your living room so you can do small bouts of activity every 30 minutes.
- Take your dogs for walks around the neighborhood instead of just letting them out in the backyard.
- Do sets of squats and lunges when you’re doing normal household chores like laundry, vacuuming, dusting, and taking out the trash.
- Do standing push-ups against the kitchen counter as you’re waiting for meals to cook.
- Go on walks around the neighborhood with your family every evening after dinner.
- Walk or bike to your community mailbox instead of picking up mail using your car on the way home.
Exercising in your community
- Visit nearby community parks to take a stroll around the trail or path, or play fun activities with your family members like horseshoes, Frisbee, and kickball.
- Go for walks after you drop your kids off for activities like ballet and piano lessons, instead of remaining seated as you wait for them to finish.
- Stay active and stand up or walk around during your kids’ sporting events, instead of just sitting in chairs or bleachers on the sidelines.
- Walk around the building or shopping center while waiting for relatives to leave their doctors’ and dentists’ appointments.
- Suggest a walk around the block while catching up with your favorite neighbors, instead of sitting down in lawn chairs.
Exercising while traveling
- Try booking a hotel that has a gym or fitness center so you can exercise instead of sitting around in your room.
- Make plans to do body weight exercises while spending time in your room if your hotel doesn’t have a fitness center. Or, ask the hotel about nearby walking or running trails, and bring your athletic shoes.
- Bring a travel yoga mat and use it for your stretching every morning and evening in your hotel room.
- Walk around the airport terminals while waiting for flights instead of sitting down in chairs.
- Leave your airplane seat every 30 minutes to stretch and move around, even if you don’t have to use the restroom.
- Try to pull over at rest stops every 30 minutes if you’re traveling by car. Frequent stops during road trips can help you stay alert, since getting up to stretch and move around increases blood and oxygen flow.
Remember that any physical activity is better than no physical activity — even if you’re just standing up to stretch and walk to the kitchen or restroom. Make a conscious effort to be more active and move around every 30 minutes to achieve a healthier lifestyle, and benefit from longevity.
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