According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical inactivity across the US is high, with state levels ranging from 17% to 47% of inactivity. That’s almost half of the population of some states not physically moving as recommended for overall health and wellness. And within these numbers Hispanics had the highest prevalence of physical inactivity at 31%, followed by African Americans at 30% then Caucasians at 23%.
As we all know, physical inactivity affects health negatively. It is a very common link to most disease processes we suffer from such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. For most this is common known knowledge but yet we still don’t mindfully pay attention to how much we are moving daily and the long term effects this cause on our body. But the good news is that it is a lifestyle choice that we can change.
Exercise is a repetitive muscular movement with an intent to improve fitness while physical activity is not a regimen but simple movements of muscle. For example, taking an aerobics class versus completing household chores.
It is recommended that we do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity daily 5 times a week but this does not have to be continuous. It also does not have to all be structured exercise programs. I’ve found that balancing my workout regimens with activities works best to keep me moving. The main goal is to get your body to move more frequently and consistently within all your daily plans. So, how can you get into the habit of incorporating more physical activity into your day?
Incorporate more movement during your outings
There are many things that go into life that can prevent us from maintaining a consistent work out regimen. One of the things I found most beneficial to staying active is incorporating it in my daily life with activities. I always joke that I have to walk through Africa to get from my car to my unit at work. But the positive side is that it gets me moving and counts towards my daily movement. For example, instead of taking 3 elevators I choose to take the stairs. By the time I reach my destination I complete about 10 flights of stairs and walk through 3 separate buildings. Multiply that by two times a day then that alone increases my level of physical activity for the day.
Incorporate more movement in the great outdoors
With the current state of social distancing and quarantining, I find myself enjoying more outdoor activities that I previously allowed the busyness of life to replace. With this exploration, I happened to fall upon a new found love for hiking. My sister had tried to get me to go for years. And for simple reasons of not making time and not being open to something new I never took her up on the offer until recently. In the end, the whole body experience was amazing and I'm looking forward to all the future trails I will explore.
Some other outdoor activities I enjoy include:
Rollerskating (one of my all time favorites from high school)
The key is to do something that you find enjoyable and fun.
Be kid-like again
Activities with my children makes me feel good and kid-like again. As I reflect on the time in my life before I had children of my own I always found myself involved in some type of community or church youth group. This connection to children kept me moving and experiencing life through their eyes. A life where moving and playing is all about the level of fun you have and not about the physical benefits of it. When we take this approach as an adult we can get the best of both worlds...fun, fitness and improved health.
Most of us have kids among our family and friends. I challenge you to not only observe them but to take the next step and join in on the fun. Just this past weekend, I was surprised to see how much fun I had playing a simple game of freeze tag with my boys. A game that I haven’t played in about 20 years. I was running up the jungle gym, sliding down the slides, ducking and weaving between the swings. Whew. In the end my heart rate was up, I was more winded than I imagined, lol, and we all left the park smiling. It turned into a double win; they had a ball and I got moving in a way that I wouldn't of without them.
Physically, each part of the body plays a role in moving it. Establishing and maintaining an active lifestyle improves your heart, lungs, muscles, bones, endocrine function (the body system that regulates our blood sugar levels) and so much more. But let me not forget to mention that physical activity also improves your ability to fight off infections. This is especially important when thinking of the respiratory illness and other possible health issues that can come from COVID 19 as well as the upcoming flu season. Also, factor in personal or family history of disease processes that can negatively effect your overall health status such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Increasing physical activity is a proven way to prevent and reverse these disease processes as well as increase longevity.
Physical activity is the single most important thing we can do for our body. This one lifestyle change can be a WHOLE world of a difference for your body that brings about long term success.
Remember in order to stay consistently active try to:
Add Extra steps throughout the day
Feel free to go on over to my instagram page to follow some of my favorite activities I engage in this week to keep my physical, emotional, environmental, spiritual and nutritional being in check.
What are 3 activities you would love to do more of?
How will you exert more energy during this time of social distancing and restricted activities?
Comment below and share some of your interests and loves.