Movement is an essential part of every function and process within our bodies. Movement is not only about losing or maintaining a healthy weight, but strength, endurance, even our thought processes, emotions, understanding, and decision making are affected by lack of movement. Just 15 – 30 minutes of continuous movement a day can improve your overall health, helping to reduce the risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other diseases.
If 15 to 30 minutes seems challenging, don’t fret. Even just a few minutes of physical activity is better than none at all. Start with 5- or 10-minutes and slowly increase your time. The more you exercise, the more energy you’ll have, building on those small successes will have you reaching your goal before too long. The key is to commit to some type of physical, daily activity. As moving becomes a habit, you can slowly add extra minutes and try different kinds of activities.
New to movement? Don’t concentrate on whether it is a marathon or a sprint, instead focus on putting one foot in front of the other, literally. More importantly, think creatively, the more fun the activity, the more likely it is to become a part of your regular daily routine. Look beyond the typical idea of exercise, while biking, jogging, and Zumba are all fabulous ways to move, they might not be the best option for you. Mini golf, swimming, Wii Sports, or gardening might be more your speed; whatever you enjoy, find ways to do it more often. Variety is the spice of life and an excellent mantra for staying motivated to move!
Studies show, even a small amount of movement each day, can:
- Boost your mood
- Improve your sleep
- Sharpen your focus
- Reduce your stress
- Enhance memory
- Help maintain a healthy weight
- Give you more over-all energy
Here are a few simple ways to incorporate movement into your day:
- Set an alarm to remind you to get up every hour, even if it is just for a stroll around your kitchen table or to get the mail.
- March in place while watching your favorite television program.
- Grab a friend and catch-up while you walk around a local park or track.
- Stretch throughout the day, incorporate stretching into your morning and evening routines. Not only is stretching a great way to wake up the muscles, but it is also a fabulous way to wind down to prepare for bed.
- Be inefficient — put away the laundry one towel at a time, make extra trips with the groceries, or consider that trip back into the room for what you forget an opportunity to increase your step count and not a sign of aging.
The benefits of being active are far too good to pass up. With a small investment of your time and the willingness to make it a priority, and a habit, in your daily life, you will reap great rewards. Exercise has been shown to prevent disease, lower the risk of falls, improve mental health and well-being, strengthen social ties, and improve cognitive function. The case for getting up and moving the body is strong, and hopefully, it has motivated you to integrate more movement into your life.