What do you mean by activity or “being active”?
The short answer is that being active or activity is movement. Anything that gets you moving, elevates your heart rate and keeps it up for a period of time is activity. You can be active by walking, riding a bike, or even gardening for as little as 20 minutes. More vigorous activities include running, spinning and stair climbing. Lifting weights, yes, even light weights constitutes activity as well – and is very good for anyone of almost any age.
Why do I need to be active?
The human body was meant to move, our ancestors used their bodies to find food, to hunt and to migrate. Today, many of us are far too sedentary which is bad for our health and our waistlines. Being active is, by far, one of the best things you can do for your health. It helps control weight, helps fight diabetes and decreases the risk for cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. It also decreases stress, strengthens the heart, improves your mood and builds confidence and self-esteem. Recent research shows that moderate activity even increases the size of the brain. It’s the perfect “anti-aging” prescription.
How much activity do I need?
Estimates vary. Even twenty minutes three times a week will reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, but most experts agree it’s best to get 30 minutes of moderate activity 5-6 times a week. You can certainly do more if you like.
What is the best kind of activity?
The best kind of activity is anything you love doing and will keep doing -- often. Things like golf, tennis, gardening, swimming or playing with your grandkids. As long as you’re moving and breathing harder than you do at rest, you’re being active. An easy way to start is by walking. That’s what the healthiest people in the world do. A number of studies show that walking 30 minutes a day, every day will improve your health.
Experts now believe the best activity programs incorporate brisk movement – activities that get your heart and lungs working harder, such as swimming, jogging and walking, combined with light weight lifting. The first type of activity strengthens the heart and lungs while lifting even the lightest weights strengthens muscles, improves bone density and raises metabolism (helping to keep weight under control). It’s also beneficial to add some light stretching into the mix.
How do I get more activity into my daily routine?
It’s not as hard as you think. Start by walking in your neighborhood 15 minutes a day. Finding a buddy is a great way to keep to a schedule and a commitment. Ride your bike or walk to work. Walk at lunchtime. Rent an exercise video, then follow it right there in front of the television. Join a gym if you can. Once you get started on a routine, it’s surprisingly easy to stick with it.