You have probably heard a dozen times that physical activity in your daily life is “good for you.” But what is the real reason behind this. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wrote, “physical activity fosters normal growth and development, can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases, and can make people feel better, function better, and sleep better” (CDC, 2018). A research paper by Owen et al who studied the effect of sedentary behavior on US adults found that 1 in 4 US adults spend about 70% of their waking hours sitting which corresponds to a positive correlation between overall sitting time with central adiposity (larger waist circumference) and increased cardiovascular and diabetes risks (Owen et al, 2010). This positive correlation shows that excessive sitting and a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk for many diseases. So, what can we do to increase physical activity in our busy lives?
The CDC notes that school-aged children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per day; while adults need at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per week (CDC, 2018). These types of exercises need to increase your heart rate, which will help the heart and lungs grow stronger and allow them to provide more oxygen to all parts of the body for proper growth and function. Other than the heart and lungs, every muscle in the body also need to grow stronger to support joints and prevent injuries; while helping you burn more calories and maintain a healthy weight (kidshealth.org, 2018). Exercising can be walking, running, swimming, biking, dancing, or even jump roping. These types of exercises need to be scheduled into your daily life around your work or school schedule. But did you know that there are small changes that you can do in your daily life that can easily increase your activity level?
As Owen et al noted, “breaks in sedentary time have beneficial associations with waist circumference, body mass index, triglyceride levels, and glucose levels” (Owen et al, 2010). These light breaks are as easy as walking down the hall to speak with a coworker instead of emailing, pacing when talking on the phone or texting, walking in place while watching TV, or just standing while playing video games. Other tips to increase your steps is to walk your dog, walk to errands, walk to lunch, walk to meetings, take the stairs, park further away, walk around the mall with friends, or even taking an extra lap at the grocery store. The American Heart Association recommends walking 10,000 steps a day to improve health and prevent diseases. This may seem a lot, but just by walking around Costco or Walmart can give you about 3,000 steps. A great way to manage your daily activity is to track your steps. Every smart phone and smart watch now has a HEALTH app that can help you count your steps as long as you are carrying it throughout the day. People can also download or buy a pedometer to carry on their belt or even shoes to track their steps. It is super easy! Let’s start stepping!
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