COVID-19 continues to affect our lives. While spring is not yet here, but it’s time to think about breaking up the monotony of inactivity.
Physical inactivity is one of the four main risk factors for preventable chronic diseases. (The others are tobacco use, excessive alcohol use, and poor nutrition.) More than 15% of adults over 50 in the United States get no physical activity beyond that of daily living. The harmful effects of this sedentary lifestyle can lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. But there are many great benefits of regular exercise!
Exercise improves mood, boosts energy, promotes better sleep, and reduces the risk of dementia. Every week, adults should get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity. Surely we have 15-30 minutes in our day to get moving!
Some people like to go to gyms, join the YMCA, or get home machines such as bicycles, treadmills, and rowers. However, there are plenty of economical or free activities that are easy to do. Walking is the best for a heart-strong and life-long pastime. Take the dog. Ask a friend to join you. Put on the coat and hat, get outside, and listen to your podcasts. Shopping? Park the car at the end of the lot and walk to the door. Use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. What about washing your own car?
Such activities as vacuuming and sweeping can burn up to 150 calories an hour. Gardening is not only a stress reliever for some, but the digging, raking, and weeding can be aerobic as well as strength-building. When is the last time you danced to your favorite song? Dancing brings flexibility, stamina, and balance in addition to its aerobic nature. It would be remiss to leave out activities like swimming, yoga, and tai chi.
Find something you enjoy––alone or with others––that offers an opportunity to be active for a sustained period of time. Just a few minutes a day and add a few minutes each week. Whether you stay home or get outside, the bottom line is to just get going.