Now that the January hustle has died down and the days are getting longer, thank goodness, many of us are feeling that it’s time to get more active, if not more fresh air, depending on where you live and how much you like the cold. For those who have not incorporated physical activity into their life before, or for a while, it can be hard to know where to begin. Here are some tips to start:
- Just do it! Although there is always a disclaimer on this that you should check with your doctor, most doctors will jump with joy if their patients mention a desire to get more physically active. Just pick a thing, and get at it. It could be walking on your lunch break, going to try a Jazzercise class – which can for some people be positively addictive – or joining a recreational sports team. Getting started is the main thing.
- Some is better than none; as a recently published study showed, even low levels of physical activity are associated with a healthier you, especially as you age. According to a 2018 study published in the journal Clinical Epidemiology ( Karolinska Institutet. “Everyday exercise has surprisingly positive health benefits.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 January 2018. sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180125110030.htm) replacing half an hour’s sedentariness a day with everyday activity reduces the risk of fatal cardiovascular disease by 24 per cent. No need to try for a marathon if you are new to exercise; a vigorous walk or vacuuming for half an hour are better than sitting on the sofa.
- Consistent is better than constant. Making a routine that includes physical activity on a few days a week, and sticking with it for several months, will yield more benefits in terms of improved mood, more energy and better overall function than going gung-ho every day for two weeks until you burn out or injure yourself. Start slow and work up.
- Make it social. Having a fitness buddy or belonging to a team where you are expected to show up can make exercise more fun and also promote more consistency of effort.
With inactivity considered the new smoking, physical activity is an essential part of maintaining cardiovascular health, as well as being a valuable tool in mood stabilization, bone health, overall function and stamina. February, Heart and Stroke month, is coming to an end, so kick off March with some plans to get more active and spring into spring!