Getting Active Each Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Being active has a lot of benefits. It can help you feel more energetic. It can help you manage your weight. It can boost your mood and relieve stress. And it can help you sleep better. But it is also one of the most effective forms of preventive medicine. The trick is to make sure you get the right dose to reap the benefits.

So how active do you need to be? For good health, experts suggest that you get at least:

  • 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week, or
  • 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, or
  • Some combination of the two
  • Plus, at least 2 days a week of strength training

But a recent study found that more activity per week may reduce your risk of serious health conditions even more. The authors of the study focused on 5 health conditions: breast cancer; colon cancer; diabetes; stroke; and heart disease. They found that the more a person moves, the lower their risk of developing these health conditions.

Increasing your overall activity won’t be too difficult because remember that you’re also active when you do chores around the house, work in the garden, and walk to the bus stop. So you don’t need to spend hours in the gym each week. You can look for ways to be more active throughout your day.

Not all activity is created equal, however. To really count, your activity has to increase your heart rate and breathing.  That is, it has to be intense enough. What counts as moderate intensity activities?  Taking a brisk walk; hiking or biking on level ground; or working in the garden are a few examples. What counts as vigorous intensity activities?  Jumping rope, running, biking uphill, or any other activity that involves strenuous effort.

Here are a few examples of some activities that fit the bill and how to weave them throughout your day:

  • On your commute. Maybe you could bike or walk briskly to work, if not the whole way then perhaps part of the way. Or if you drive, park in a spot that’s a bit of a distance from your office. Then you can walk briskly to and from your car.
  • Around the house. Vacuuming and scrubbing the floors are strenuous chores. Working in the yard or in your garden can also get your heart rate up. If you have a dog, you can take your dog for a brisk walk a couple of times a day.
  • At work. Why not take a break in the morning and climb stairs for 10 minutes? You could use your lunch break to do some simple body weight exercises, like squats, lunges, and planks. And you could go for a brisk walk in the afternoon.
  • During your down time. Down time doesn’t have to mean sitting on the couch and watching TV. You could join a rec league and play a sport like basketball, soccer, or softball with friends. You could play tag with your kids or go dancing with your spouse.

Regular exercise will also be an important piece of the puzzle. Try to do aerobic training 3 or 4 days a week and strength training at least 2 days a week. When you combine a regular workout routine with more active daily living, it will help you more easily meet these physical activity goals. In general, look for ways to sit less and move more. It can improve your health in important ways.