As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, now is a great time to add more physical activity to your routine. Even the smallest steps can lead to big strides toward improving your health. Aside from reaching a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI), there are many benefits to being physically active:
- Reduced blood pressure
- Decreased cholesterol
- Reduced risk for heart disease
- Decreased potential for depression
- More restful sleep
- Reduced body fat
- Stronger muscles, bones and joints
Physical activity is important for people of all ages. Children and adolescents can improve muscular fitness, bone and heart health. Adults can reduce their risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and even some types of cancer. Seniors may lower their risk of falling and improve brain function.
What’s the best way to get started? You should always speak to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. Once you’re in the clear, find an activity or two that you enjoy and will stick with. Start at a comfortable level and gradually increase your effort each time you exercise. Switching up your activities can keep you from getting bored and will allow you to work different parts of your body. You can even make exercise a family activity.
If you’re still not one for exercise, turn to your everyday routine for some additional activity. You can:
· Walk or bike instead of getting in your car or hopping in a cab
· Get off the bus or train one stop earlier to walk the rest of the way
· Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
· Park in the back of your office parking lot and walk a bit further to the front door
No matter which activity you choose, remember that physical activity is important to your overall health. Becoming a little more active each day can be the first small step toward a routine that helps you stay healthy. All you have to do is get moving.
William Gillespie, MD, is Chief Medical Officer of EmblemHealth and President and CEO of AdvantageCare Physicians.
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