The benefits of a healthy lifestyle have long been documented. Studies show that people with sedentary lifestyles are at a higher risk of early death compared to those who are active.
However, with increasingly stressful lifestyles, you may find fitting in time to exercise is easier said than done. Or maybe you haven't exercised in a while, so you're nervous about getting started.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a minimum of 150 minutes a week, or just 20 minutes a day. There are plenty of positive health benefits from engaging in physical activity each day, even if you spend your time at a desk or have physical limitations.
Check out these 10 ideas for incorporating movement into your daily life.
1. Go for a walk
A really simple way to move more is to go for a walk a few times a week. You may have heard the magic number is 10,000 steps, but recent research shows taking 7,000 steps a day reduces mortality risk by 50-70% compared to those who don't. Find a nearby walking track or trail, take a lap around the block or walk around your favorite shopping center.
2. Take the stairs
Recent research has found that people with heart issues who started short stair climbing routines saw significant cardiovascular and muscular benefits. So adding a few flights of stairs to your day can help protect your heart.
3. Move more at work
Work may be where you spend most of your time sitting, so find small ways to move more. Try parking a little further from the entrance each week or walking over to a co-worker's desk instead of sending an email. Whether you work at home or in an office, use your lunch break to move around, avoid eating at your desk and set an alarm to remind yourself to get up every hour.
4. Include your pet
Are you looking for a boost for your mental and physical health? A pet may help. Studies have shown that pets help reduce stress and blood pressure. Plus, your pet may help you increase your physical activity level. They don't easily take no for an answer if they want to walk or play fetch, and they may also benefit from more activity!
5. Add a morning stretch
Stretching isn't just for runners. In fact, studies show that incorporating light stretching 2-3 days a week can increase your flexibility and muscle strength. That can help reduce back pain and the risk of falls, which is a concern for many older individuals.
6. Invite your friends
Sometimes, having the love and encouragement of friends can go a long way to improving your mental and physical health. Getting a friend or a group together to do activities every week, from going on walks to gardening or Tai chi, can boost your health and reduce stress.
7. Try resistance bands
Many people feel uncomfortable going to the gym or are limited due to mobility issues. But strength training is important as you age, for both women and men's health. A recent study found that resistance bands provide the same effectiveness as weight machines and dumbbells.
8. Consider low-impact cardio
Heart health is essential as you age. So focusing on adding some cardiovascular activities is important. Even low-impact activities such as swimming, rowing or cycling can make a positive difference.
9. Involve kids and grandkids
Spending time playing with kids and grandkids is a fun way to exercise without feeling like you're working out. Going on a short hike or walking around the block with them provides many intergenerational care benefits for your health and adds to your daily step count.
10. Set a movement goal
Building some endurance is another goal for many as they age. Walking, moving and being active for a little bit more time every week can improve your health. But don't overdo it. Studies have shown the optimal active time for adults is between 2.5 and 4.5 hours a week.
Ready to get moving?
Moving your body doesn't have to mean training for a marathon or spending hours in the gym every day. Instead, adding even a little bit of movement to your daily routine can make you feel stronger, healthier and better about yourself.
There are plenty of activities you can add to your schedule that will help you improve your strength, mobility and cardiovascular health. Discover more ideas for how to improve your health and longevity.