By Melissa Kluczynski, MS
We’ve all heard that we should move more, but you may be asking yourself how do I find the time? How do I get motivated and stay motivated? The good news is that there are simple ways to move more throughout the day. Read on to learn more about the benefits of physical activity, how much activity is enough, what types of activities count, and how to get started.
Image Source: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/windmill-exercise/
What are the Benefits of Physical Activity? There are many benefits to being active. Some of the more immediate benefits include boosting mood and energy, reducing stress, and improving sleep. Also, people who stay active and strong can do chores and everyday activities easier, keep up with the grandkids, and stay independent as they get older. Over a longer period of time, physical activity can help you live a longer, healthier life. Being more active might help control blood pressure, reduce the risk of disease such as type 2 diabetes and some cancers, reduce pain from arthritis, reduce anxiety and depression, and maintain a healthy weight.
How much Activity is Enough? The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends the following amounts of activity:
At least 150 minutes of Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Activity a week. Anything that gets your heart beating faster counts like swimming, walking around the neighborhood, and going for a bike ride.
Muscle-Strengthening Activity at least 2 days a week such as lifting weights, doing squats or lunges, and carrying the groceries.
Other Types of Activity to Add to the Mix. Balance activity can lower the risk of falls and may lower the risk of injuring yourself if you do fall. Examples of balance activities include standing on one leg, walking backwards or sideways, and yoga or tai chi. Add stretching exercises to your cool down routine. It can help with flexibility when doing everyday activities like bending down to tie your shoes.
What Types of Activities Count? Anything that gets you moving! Many activities that we have to do like chores (e.g., grocery shopping, vacuuming, walking the dog) and yard work (e.g., raking, mowing the lawn) count towards physical activity goals. Even certain activities that don’t necessarily feel like physical activity count such as playing with kids/grandkids, dancing, or water aerobics. Check out this video for more tips on how to get moving!
How Do I Get Started? Check out the Move Your Way Activity Planner to set goals, choose activities, and get tips on staying motivated. If you’re just getting started, begin slowly. Even 5 minutes of activity at a time can be beneficial, and gradually build up to more over time. To stay motivated, find a partner to exercise with and set realistic goals for yourself. Check out this video for more tips on staying motivated.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Move Your Way. https://health.gov/moveyourway. Last Updated May 16, 2022. Accessed May 16, 2022.
Melissa Kluczynski holds a Master of Science degree in Epidemiology from the University at Buffalo and she is currently working as a Research Associate in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, NY. Her research interests include chronic disease prevention and women's health.