ACT Now! Move… for Strength
Physical activity keeps muscles and bones strong as we age. It reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers. For many people, regular exercise is as effective as medication for controlling depression. And you don’t have to run a marathon to get these amazing benefits! The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, but EVERY MINUTE MATTERS. Here are some simple habits you can start TODAY to work up to that 150 minute goal:
“Moderate physical activity” gets the heart pumping and the breath going a bit faster than normal (like a brisk walk), but doing anything that gets you moving more and engages large muscles helps build strength and energy. Pick one or two of the ideas below to “trick” yourself into adding more activity in your days:
- Take the stairs (instead of an elevator or escalator) whenever possible.
- Park at the far end of the parking lot.
- Take a lap or two around the store empty-handed before you start shopping.
- Waiting in lines, lift up on your tip-toes for 10 seconds at a time to strengthen calf muscles.
- If you ride the bus, get off one stop early and walk the extra distance.
- If you are sitting for long stretches at work or at home, set an alarm to get up and move at least once each hour—stretch, walk to the bathroom, take one lap around the building or floor, fill up your water bottle, etc. Anything to get the circulation going and muscles engaged!
- Make housework work for you! If you’ve got to wash the car, do it by hand instead of taking it to an automatic washer. Even putting away clean dishes is an opportunity to focus on stretching muscles as you bend down to stow pots or reach up to stash glasses.
And now that you’ve added some “sneaky” physical activity, here are some tips for getting closer to 150 minutes per week:
- SCHEDULE physical activity! If it’s on your calendar and you’ve planned it, it’s harder to skip.
- ALWAYS exercise on Monday—if you start the week off active, it’s easier to keep it up.
- Start your day with some push-ups on your bedroom floor or against the bedroom wall (if getting floor-level is hard). Start with what you can do comfortably and try to add 5-10 more each week
- Walk your dog more—you will both feel better!
- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WHERE WE LIVE! Walks in these North Carolina mountains are good for body and soul—find a greenway or trail close to you and give yourself the gift of some dedicated time every weekend to enjoy it!
- Grab an exercise video from your local library or thrift store, or search for free workout videos on YouTube. Try out different kinds of exercise to see what you enjoy.
- Go play! If you don’t like walking or aerobics videos, grab a friend and a frisbee or ball and go to the park.
You don’t need an expensive gym membership or lots of equipment to increase your exercise and strength—just a little scheduled time and the willingness to try new things!