It’s Time to Get Active!Tonya Smikal
We all know that exercising can help with weight management, but it really does so much more for us. Studies show regular physical activity can lower the risk for heart disease and strokes, but did you know it can also help relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression and Type 2 diabetes? Regular workouts can also help improve cognition, lower cancer risks and help improve bone density. With all of these health benefits, why would we not exercise more?
The number one excuse for not exercising is that we’re too tired. The irony to this is exercise is the key to having more energy. By increasing your blood flow, you are increasing oxygen to the brain and helping your circulation. Regular exercise also strengthens your heart and lungs which in turn, helps you not to feel as tired. It can also help you have better quality sleep, which may also help you feel more energized during the day.
Another common excuse for not getting in regular physical activity is lack of time. Granted, we are busier now than ever before in this day and age, but let’s think about it. How much time do you spend in front of a television or scrolling through social media? I am not suggesting you give those things up (unless you really want to) but use that time to be more productive. You can watch TV from a stationary bike or a treadmill. If you’re stuck behind a desk all day, consider getting a desk riser that allows you to stand intermittently throughout the day. Add some ankle weights for additional workout benefits. Make your idle physical time work in your favor.
Some people don’t exercise because they feel they are too old, it’s too hard or it’s just not for them. When you start something that is out of your comfort zone, it’s natural for it to seem uncomfortable and normal to want to avoid it. For those who would say they are too old, ask yourself, do you know of any other people your age that you would consider physically active? Chances are that the answer is yes. If exercise seems too hard, then you are not doing it right. You should start out light. If joint pain is the issue, try water exercises. The longer you stick with it, the stronger you will get and the less you will hurt because those muscles can better support your joints. For those who have physical limitations, consult your healthcare professional and ask for a physical therapy evaluation. You have options.
Getting active does not necessarily mean going to a gym or working out with a personal trainer. That works for some people, but not everyone. Going for a walk is exercise. Dancing is exercise. Gardening is exercise. Cleaning out a closet is exercise. Playing with children or grandchildren is great exercise. The point is to find something you enjoy that gets you more physically active and do more of that. If it’s important to you, you will find a way. If it’s not, you will find an excuse. You have to make it a priority.
There are tools that can help you. Fitness tracker watches can help you keep track of your steps. There are also free apps you can get on your personal mobile device to help you with tracking your physical activity to see how many minutes of activity you are getting each day and how many calories are being burned by that activity. Use these tools to take a baseline measurement of what a normal week is for you. Then start slowly and work up from there. Set a goal to increase by 10 minutes per week. Baby steps toward a goal are better than no steps at all. Consider all of the health benefits. Consider being able to do more with your friends and family. Consider the improvement to your quality of life. No more excuses. The time to start is right now.