It is a sad truth of our times that most people do not get as much physical activity as we need to safeguard our health. As technology has improved, our lives have become easier. Daily life for most Americans is far less physically demanding than it was 50 or 100 years ago. As a result, we have increasingly become a more sedentary population. While the advances in technology that caused this shift have helped advance society as a whole, the decrease in physical activity has had dire consequences for the state of our health.
But there is something you can do to counteract this negative result. Simply commit to making physical activity a regular part of your day.
According to the USDA’s Choose My Plate campaign, choosing to be more physically active will improve your health for the short term and the long term. No matter how old you are, where you live, or what size you wear, you will benefit from increasing the amount of physical activity in your daily routine. And when it comes to physical activity, the more you do, the better you will feel.
To help you increase the amount of physical activity in your day, here are some tips on how making small changes can lead to a more active lifestyle.
Go for Four a Day
There are four different kinds of activity that provide health benefits and if you try to do something every day in each of those four areas, you will increase your overall activity level. These areas are aerobic, muscle strengthening, bone strengthening, and balance/stretching.
Pick Activities You Like
If you love going to the gym, great; but if you don’t, find some other activity that you like to do and do that instead. Research indicates that when you choose physical activities that you like, you are more likely to do them, even when that means making time for them in an already busy schedule.
One of the mistakes many people make is thinking that they need to carve out a large amount of time in order to work out. This way of thinking makes it really easy to go entire days without any increase in our activity level. But you can get big benefits from thinking small. Instead of trying to find an hour and a half to go to the gym, find three 10-20 minute blocks of time to go for a walk, do some simple strength training exercises, or to run through a couple of yoga poses.
Mix It Up
Don’t get stuck in a rut by doing the same thing every day. Over time, doing the same thing day in and day out may get boring but it may also mean that you are only getting one or two of the types of activity mentioned above.
- Join or start a walking group at work or in your neighborhood.
- Go for a family bike ride.
- Walk around the track or the field while watching kids at sports practices.
- Clean the house or rake the yard.
- Stretch or do yoga poses while watching television.
- Park in the parking space farthest from the door when you go to the office, the store, or anywhere.
- Take dance lessons.
And, of course, if you are looking for healthy recipes to pair with your new physical activities, check out the selection of healthy recipes on Fill Your Plate.
- 6 Tips and Tricks to Sticking to Your Resolutions (fillyourplate.org)
- Two Small Steps to a Heart Healthier Diet (fillyourplate.org)
- How are We Helping Make the Next Generation Healthier (fillyourplate.org)