Physical activity is important if you want to get—and stay—healthy. Definitive research has shown that aside from not smoking, regular physical activity is the most beneficial lifestyle change you can make to positively impact your overall health. This doesn’t mean that you have to join a gym or embark on some crazy fitness regimen. You just need to get moving.
1. Not to be overly dramatic, but research shows that multiple hours spent in front of the TV may be deadly. Though it may not be realistic to get rid of your TV completely, make a conscious effort to severely cut back on the amount of time you spend in front of the boob tube. Get outside, play games with family or friends, engage in activities with your children or grandkids, or whatever—just don’t spend your idle time sitting around.
2. Get a pedometer. Many people have no idea how much—or how little—they actually walk each day. To qualify as being moderately active, experts recommend you shoot for 10,000 or more steps daily. Pedometers make tracking your activity level a piece of cake. Look for these inexpensive, step-counting devices in sporting goods stores, and online, or order from the clinic by calling (800) 810-6655.
3. If you are going to play video games, make them interactive. Several manufacturers have created games that involve dancing, sports, and other movements that require getting up off the couch to participate.
4. Household activities such as laundry and cleaning count. As do yard work, gardening, and other chores that involve a little physical exertion.
5. Doing errands can also counteract inactivity, provided you implement a few simple strategies. You can start by walking or riding a bike to your destination. If you drive, park in the far corners of the lot. Opt for stairs instead of an escalator or elevator. And finally, pick up the pace when you’re walking around the aisles.
6. I realize that many people have jobs that require them to sit in front of the computer or at a desk for most of the day. But during your breaks, use that free time to do a few laps around the office, run a nearby errand on foot, or move around and stretch in your office.
Trust me, these small changes can make a big difference.