Spring into an Active Lifestyle

Adapted from a post by Andrea Riddell, R. Kin, – Mount Forest FHT

We all know that moving more is good for us but getting the recommended amount can feel really overwhelming, even when we know it’s connected to health. An active lifestyle is simply defined as undertaking physical activity regularly and consistently, regardless of intensity level.

A recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week is shown to help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Having an active lifestyle can also help control your blood pressure, manage chronic diseases, strengthen your bones and muscles, decrease shortness of breath, improve your ability to complete your daily tasks and help prevent falls. Being active also gives the added benefits of increased energy, better sleep and improved mental health.

To some 150 minutes can seem quite daunting, do not worry we have you covered! Here are some small steps you can start implementing into your daily life to help start your active journey and start getting those health benefits.

  1. Start where you are and start small! Meaning if you are living a life where most of your day is sitting, start by taking small steps to increase your activity vs. joining a gym and starting a one-hour workout everyday.
  2. Start with 2–5-minute bouts of movement to every 30-60 minutes of sitting. Yes, I am talking about setting a timer for every 30-60 minutes (do what feels right for you) to get up and move! This movement can be as simple as walking around your couch a few times, walking to the kitchen to get a glass of water, taking a lap of your house/apartment, marching on the spot. Simple movement to break up that sedentary time.
  3. Brainstorm types of movement you enjoy. Is walking your thing? Or maybe swimming has you nodding your head. Do you catch yourself tapping your foot to the radio? Get up and dance to that song (like no one is watching of course)! Do you enjoy strength exercises…hello squats! Does the thought of yoga or Tai Chi make you excited to move? Maybe you are looking forward to that grass greening up and flowers blooming so you can get out and tend to them! Make sure to pick something that you are excited to fit into your schedule instead of dreading having to complete.
  4. Break those 150 minutes into bite size pieces. You can simply break it among 7 or 5 days if you are able to do 20 or 30 minutes, respectively, at a time. Or if that also seems daunting. Break it down into 5 to 10 minutes of movement. I will do the math for you; if you move for 5 minutes at a time, 4 times a day, each day of the week you have met 150 minutes! Now these 150 minutes should make you breathe a little heavier and feel a little challenging.
  5. Some ideas for you to increase activity inside your house;
    • Stand up while you talk on the phone for part of your conversation
    • Stand up and march on the spot while those commercial breaks are on
    • Stand up and sit back down a few extra times when you go to sit at the table
    • Take the stairs to your apartment instead of the elevator (if it is a safe option for you)
    • Instead of leaving a pile at the bottom of the stairs “for later” take those up the stairs each time (if it is a safe option for you)
  6. Some ideas for you to increase your activity when you are out and about;
    • Walk to get the mail instead of driving
    • Park further from the entrance
    • Meet with a friend for a walk with your coffees to-go instead of sitting at the café
    • Take the stairs whenever able
    • Park centrally and walk to multiple stores before moving the car

Last but not least, and maybe the most important

  1. Give yourself grace! I am warning you now there may be times when your activity levels are lower. For example, if you get a cold, have allergies that are acting up, your sleep all of a sudden changed for the worse, a family member became ill, etc. I am here to tell you THAT’S OK! We are human which means we are not perfect and our active lifestyles do not have to be perfect either. It will fluctuate and change with you if you let it. The most important thing to do is forgive your lapse without judgement. Then look at that lapse to find out why it happened and use that information to help modify your schedule or activity to better suit your current life.

For more information about any of the free services offered by the Upper Grand Family Health Team, visit our website at www.uppergrandfht.org or call our Fergus office at 519-843-3947 ext 126. Like us on Facebook (uppergrandFHT) for healthy living tips and information on upcoming programs and events in the area!

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