In Meigs County, we are blessed to live in a region with weather that allows outdoor activities almost year-round. The key word is “almost”. For the months that the temperatures drop and the daylight hours are limited we need to be creative to remain physically active. 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 and blood pressure. Regular physical activity can also improve sleep, increase energy while 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. A busy lifestyle is very demanding of one’s time. When organizing priorities, exercising is often pushed aside. If you can make time for scheduled exercise, definitely check out the fitness facilities and group exercise classes offered here in our county. If scheduled exercise is not an option, A great suggestion would be to incorporate more physical activity into your daily tasks.
Here are some tips to increase your physical activity during the winter months.
1) Obtain a pedometer. Pedometers are small gadgets that count the number of steps you take each day. If you can count steps, you can begin to knowingly increase the number of steps you are taking each day. Pedometers are often found within health apps on your smart phone or part of your watch. 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.
2) 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.
3) 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.
4) Have “walk-meetings”. Informal meetings are perfect for getting in extra steps.
5) Utilize any building you are in to purposefully get more steps. The grocery store, the mall or even at work if there is space. Here at the Health Department we have a hallway that makes a loop. Walking the loop is about 200 steps and takes about 3 minutes. Taking a brisk 3-minute walk each hour can be a great way to get in more steps.
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.