Its National Physical Activity month and because Americans are spending more time at work and sitting in front of a screen than ever before, we are at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and other diseases. Being physically active is important to prevent heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers. Research has shown that every hour of regular exercise can add about two hours to life expectancy, even if you don’t start until midlife. Plus, physical activity can relieve depression, improve your memory, lower your blood pressure and help prevent obesity.
During April, and all year long, we want people to lace up for their heart and get moving. Whether it’s walking, running, biking, playing sports or a group class, the goal is for adults to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity), while kids should get 60 minutes of physical activity a day.
No Time to Exercise? Try our Top Ten Tips to Get More!
You can even get heart-healthy benefits if you divide your time into two or three 10- to 15-minute segments a day. Here are some tips for getting active:
1. Get out the leash and walk your dog. It’s a great activity for both man and man’s best friend. Your heart — and your pooch — will thank you!
2. Mall walk. Are you sweating (or shivering) at the idea of walking outside? Take a brisk stroll around your local mall instead. Window shop, people watch and give your heart a workout in a climate-controlled environment.
3. Join a team. Pick an activity you love and round up some friends. Team sports can be fun — and keep you motivated and accountable.
4. Take your child for a brisk walk. It’s an excellent way to get some one-on-one time (or one-on-three, depending on the size of your brood.) Spice up your routine by exploring new neighborhoods or turning your walk into a scavenger hunt.
5. Walk and talk. Even if you’re glued to your phone for work calls, you don’t have to be glued to your seat. Make it a habit to talk and walk. Some workplaces have walking paths to make it even easier to burn while you earn.
6. Tune into fitness during TV time. Reject your inner couch potato. Walk, jog in place or use the treadmill at the gym while you watch your favorite 30-minute show.
7. Park and walk. How many times have you circled the parking lot to find “the” spot? Spare yourself the stress and gain more energy by parking far away (or even in a remote lot) and walking farther to your destination.
8. Take the stairs. The elevator may go up — but it doesn’t make your heart rate climb. Take the stairs instead. You may huff and puff at first, but over time, your body will thank you.
9. Dance! Do it in a ballroom, at a club or even in your living room. You’ll burn calories and gain a new hobby.
10. Skip the cake, say goodbye to pie and take a walk after dinner. You’ll get a reward that’s sweeter than dessert: more family time.
If these ideas don’t work for you, find something that you enjoy! Ditching the excuses can be the first step to a healthier you. Of course, if you have an injury, talk to your doctor first to see if there’s a low-impact exercise you can do or find out if you should wait until you’re healed.