As the heat and humidity drop and the leaves begin to change, fall is a wonderful time to get out and enjoy our local scenery on foot. A busy/stressful lifestyle can be damaging to your health, but daily physical activity can help provide a calming balance to your daily routine. In fact, regular physical activity can not only relieve stress, but reduce anxiety, depression, blood pressure while improving sleep, increasing energy, controlling body weight and providing many more health benefits.
Unfortunately, many individuals are aware that improving physical activity comes with health benefits and yet we still struggle to get in our daily steps. Let’s pinpoint some common reasons as to why we don’t exercise.
1) “I don’t have time”. A busy lifestyle is very demanding of one’s time. When organizing priorities, exercising is often pushed aside. A great suggestion would be to incorporate more physical activity into your daily tasks.
2) “Too Tired”. Incorporating physical activity into your day will actually increase your energy and alertness. Keep in mind, if you are exhausted because you spent the day performing hard manual labor, then you have exercised enough…get some rest.
3) “I don’t like to exercise”. Find a physical activity that you enjoy. Very few people enjoy jumping on a treadmill and staring into a wall for 30 minutes every day, I get it. Get outside and take a walk, a dog is a great exercise companion. Once your dog gets accustomed to daily walks, they will remind you and motivate you as it is also a highlight of their day.
4) “I can’t exercise outside in bad weather”. It becomes a challenge when we cannot get to the walking path in the winter, thus we need to be creative in finding alternative ways to get in our daily steps.
Here are some tips to increase your physical activity.
1) Take the stairs as often as possible. Whether going up or down stairs, you can increase your daily step count by avoiding elevators and escalators.
2) Park farther away in the parking lot. This tactic will only add seconds to your walk into a building, but remember that increasing physical activity can add years to your life.
3) Plant a garden. Not only can you enjoy the satisfaction of growing plants, but the physical activity of gardening can provide many health benefits.
4) Buy a pedometer. Pedometers are small gadgets that count the number of steps you take each day. If you have a competitive side you can quickly see the benefits as you will strive to beat your personal records. A standard goal should be 10,000 steps per day.
5) Have “walk-meetings”. Informal meetings are perfect for getting in extra steps.
6) Go for a family walk. Dinner time has traditionally always been an opportunity to discuss the day with your family. After dinner, you can extend this family time by getting into a routine of taking a family walk and investing more time into your children’s lives and solidifying healthy exercise habits into their daily routine at the same time.
As you can see, most of the tips are small lifestyle changes you can start doing immediately and cost nothing at all. I suggest trying the tips that are most realistic for you at this point in your life. Keep in mind, small amounts of physical activity add up throughout the day, which will add up to a healthier and happier lifestyle for you and your family.
Marc Barr is the Meigs County Health Commissioner.