If enjoying active living is a bit of a stretch for you, you are not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 15% of all Americans do not participate in any physical activities in their leisure time. Puerto Rico tops the inactivity charts at 47.7%, and by region, the Midwest hovers around 25% prevalence for inactivity. What’s even more surprising, these statistics were before COVID-19 invaded and forced many of us into lockdowns and residual hibernation.
If people are not getting active outside of work, work itself is not much help. The National Health Institute finds that 80% of all U.S. jobs are predominantly sedentary positions. Gone are the days when American settlers exercised tending their land, livestock and gardens every day. Today, many in our country simply snack away on the couch watching old Westerns of people living and loving an active lifestyle.
The Downside of an Inactive Life
A study by the CDC notes that more than 8% of deaths in the country of non-disabled adults ages 25 and older were linked to physical inactivity. Adopting sedentary behavior can shorten your lifespan and eventually kill you. The risk of common health conditions that increase with low levels of physical activity include:
- Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain cancers including breast, colon and bladder cancer
- Anxiety and depression
Why Active Living Matters
Active living matters because you matter. At Think Whole Person Healthcare, we are on your side to help you gain and maintain robust health and keep moving in activities you enjoy most. Our outstanding team of physicians and advanced practice providers can assess your physical condition and offer steps toward reaching your activity goals.
Our top-rated physical therapists can perform a thorough evaluation and develop a personalized plan to help meet your fitness goals. If you need more targeted care for your spine, bones, feet and more, our think physical therapists can lessen your pain and discomfort and get you back walking, dancing and working out again.
Are the kids and grandkids waiting for a fun-natured wrestling match? Do you hear the dog whining for a walk with you? Are you wanting to book that cruise with its island adventure hikes? Go for it! We’ve got a list of ideas below to help you ease into increasing your physical activity.
Remember, you do not need to become a crazed weekend warrior who overdoes exercise or someone who is obsessed with daily gym workouts. General physical activity guidelines for adults are:
- At least 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity). Endurance or cardio-respiratory exercise includes running, jogging, biking, swimming, stair climbing, dancing or fast walking.
- Two or more days a week of muscle-strengthening activities such as weightlifting, hill walking, pushups, sit-ups and squats.
My Fitness Journey
I historically have been active, but as adult life took over, I became less and less active. My job was active, and I did activities like yardwork or walking the dog, so I never felt the need to do anything more! I had been ignoring chronic back pain, neck pain and wrist pain for years, thinking it would resolve and was just part of my job and life.
When the pandemic swept over us all, I became even more sedentary, and my chronic pains began to worsen. It was then when I decided that my quality of life could be better for myself and as a leader for my patients. I started to work out regularly, and when the gyms closed during the pandemic, I kept up by modifying the workouts at home. Since then, I have not looked back.
Exercise has become the best medicine I could take. My aches and pains went away. I sleep better and have so much more energy. I became so much stronger which is very empowering. Even simple daily tasks were easier, like carrying laundry baskets up the stairs. So, I continue to be active every day because I matter and my wellness matters.
Everyday Physical Activity Tips
Be sure to take small steps to boost your exercise and protect your health from inactivity-related illness and disease. One of our think physical therapy patients is a grandfather who wanted to sit on the floor and play with his grandbaby and walk at the zoo with his older grandchildren without getting worn out or experiencing intense back pain.
After a thorough evaluation, I developed an exercise plan that started simply and slowly since he had not been active in years. We first managed his pain and mobility and eventually trained so he could exercise without pain or excessive soreness. Now he can walk at the same speed of his grandkids and easily get down and back up from the floor when enjoying time with his grandbaby.
Like this grandfather, you can choose a variety of physical activities from this list based on your conditioning and your personal preferences. The important key is to just keep moving every day. If you have physical limitations or disabilities, our think physical therapy and occupational therapy teams are here to help you modify exercises that work best for you.
1. Walk whenever possible. Grab the leash and take your pet for a vigorous walk. Walk the kids to school. In parking lots, park your vehicle at a distance from your destination building. Skip the elevator and escalator and take the stairs. Get off the bus stop early and walk. Walk laps in the mall. Enjoy a family walk after dinner.
2. Join an exercise group or an aerobic-based class at the health club. Finding an exercise buddy or two helps keep you accountable with your fitness goals.
3. Do sit-ups and pushups or lift weights in front of the TV. When the commercials come on, hit the floor and power up those abs and triceps.
4. Play with the kids or grandkids at least a half hour a day. Playing catch, chasing a ball, shooting hoops—these activities and more will help keep you youthful.
5. Dance to music. Turn up the volume and put on your dancing shoes or go barefoot. Rock, salsa, Zumba, whatever your musical style, just cut loose and burn those calories. A fun option: grab a partner and laugh your way through a lively session.
6. Work around the house. Dusting, vacuuming and mopping will never be boring again when you see these chores as health-boosting options. You may even want to put on upbeat music and intersperse your dance moves.
7. Do your own yard work. When the weather permits, get outside and weed, rake and plant. If there’s snow, dust off the snow shovel and tidy up the sidewalk and driveway.
8. Join family and friends at the zoo, park or lake. Walking while enjoying the sights is a refreshing way to invigorate your health.
9. Walk and talk while you’re on the phone. Even on work calls, you can avoid being glued to your chair. Some workplaces have walking paths that you can take while you’re conversing on your cell.
10. Take advantage of waiting in line. Whenever you’re in line at the grocery store or department store or waiting for the bus, use the downtime for moving your body. Tuck in and hold your stomach muscles, do a few leg lifts or stretch from head to toe. Just be sure you don’t go too wild and knock someone over.
Every step, wiggle, stretch and bend counts. Even if you’re pressed for time to get in a longer workout, smaller activities throughout the day add up to the 2 ½ hours of recommended weekly aerobic exercise.
If you’re in an exercise slump or need more ideas on how to improve your active living, just stop by our Think Physical Therapy office on the second floor. Be sure to take the stairs!
LEARN MORE ABOUT PHYSICAL FITNESS BY SPEAKING WITH YOUR THINK PHYSICAL THERAPIST
Think Whole Person Healthcare makes it easy to receive both preventative care and treatment with our physical therapists and for a wide range of health conditions. From that aching knee to the persistent cough, our physical therapists, physicians, advanced practice providers and specialists are committed to you and your family’s lifelong health and well-being.Our walk-in clinic treats anyone, even those who are not a think patient or do not have a primary care provider currently. To learn more about our comprehensive healthcare services, visit our Services page online and choose your own think medical professionals by visiting our Meet Your Doctor page.