If you feel like your stamina has decreased after a sedentary winter, take heart knowing that the days are growing longer with each spring day, making it easier to get outside and get moving again. Even the smallest changes can start to make a difference in your heart health, circulation, respiratory function, muscle strength – all the important ways being physically fit benefits your overall wellness.
Living an active lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to start training for a 5K tomorrow. It means making moderate activity a part of your daily routine. There are many great ways to get the activity you need.
How much activity is recommended? According to the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, adults should get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. In addition, adults should focus on muscle strengthening exercises at least two days a week.
Ask your doctor what physical activities you should avoid based on your health status, so that you can move forward with confidence and the right support.
No-big-deal exercise ideas
Walking is one of the easiest ways to increase your activity level. Walk as much as possible because those minutes add up.
- Walk your kids to school.
- Take a family walk after dinner.
- Lengthen your dog walks or walk the dog once in the morning and again at night, instead of just letting the dog run around the yard.
- Don’t avoid walking up hills. Take it slow at first. You’ll notice a difference in your stamina as the days pass, guaranteed. Hill walking is good for muscle strengthening, too!
- Talk to you doctor about whether or not you should carry small hand weights while you walk for added muscle strengthening.
Other ideas to increase activity and strengthen muscles:
- Dance to your favorite music.
- Play with your children: kick a soccer ball back and forth; play catch.
- Try an online exercise video if the weather makes going outside no fun.
- Do some yardwork when the weather cooperates. Raking leaves is a great cardiovascular activity and strengthens muscles.
Excuses for not doing physical activity aren’t new: There’s not enough time; no one will exercise with me, etc., etc. Once excuses are part of your mindset, it’s harder and harder to get moving, and being sedentary wins.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention offers several tips to avoid excuses not to exercise:
- Carve out three 30-minute time slots per week and dedicate them to being physical. It’s easier to do smaller increments that add up compared to a longer timeframe.
- For company, join an exercise or yoga class, or join a hiking or walking group. Suggest walking with a co-worker at lunch.
- Take the stairs, not the elevator at work, and count the number of steps it takes.
- Do exercises at your desk. You’d be surprised how many ways you can work your muscles at your workstation! These are good, too, if your mobility is limited.
- If you like to track things, monitor your exercise on an app or tracking sheet. All that activity will add up, and the visible results will encourage you to continue.
As you transition into a more active lifestyle, it won’t take long to see even minor fitness improvements. Congratulations!