PHYSICAL ACTIVITY WORKS RIGHT FROM THE START
When it comes to your health, physical activity may be the most important controllable lifestyle factor of them all. Neglecting physical activity bears some of the heaviest health consequences, while successfully incorporated it into your life leads to incredibly positive outcomes.
Regular physical activity can help:
1. Control your weight
2. Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease (#1 leading cause of death in US adults)
3. Reduce risk for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes (#7 leading cause of death)
4. Reduce risk for some cancers (#2 leading cause of death, all cancers combined)
5. Strengthen your bones and muscles
6. Improve mental health and mood (self-harm/suicide is the #10 leading cause of death)
7. Increase your chances of living longer
If regular physical activity is new to you, a great place to start is with a moderate, aerobic activity, such as brisk walking.
Incorporate physical activity into your life consistently and slowly increase intensity. Risk for injury and cardiac events, such as a heart attack, arise with a burst of sudden vigorous-intensity activity, especially when done without prior conditioning. However, don’t discard the need for exercise because of the risk for injury. Start out comfortably, increase intensity slowly, and be consistent. The benefits far outweigh the risks.
Begin with an activity that you can do while comfortably holding a conversation. For example, if you find yourself gasping for air on your morning run, try power walking instead. Over time, your body will be conditioned and ready to incorporate running. In any activity (excluding swimming, unless you’re Aquaman), holding a conversation is a good measurement of your heart and lungs’ ability to maintain that level of activity.
Another topic I would be amiss to forget is that physical activity should not be relegated to once or twice a day. Taking the dog for a walk or hitting the gym for an hour, but sitting at a desk for the next 8 hours misses the point. Your body is made to move. Confining yourself to a sedentary, even paralysis state, besides your eyelids and fingers on the keyboard, is detrimental to the body.
The solution to this dilemma is to simply move more, in any way you can. Even in non-ideal environments like an office, use the resources available to you. Go for a brisk 15-minute walk two hours before the end of the day. Swing your arms after writing a lengthy e-mail. Stretch out your neck. Park farther away and take the stairs. All of these non-exercise forms of movement are incredibly effective for offsetting the negative side effects of 8+ hours of sitting. Move more, feel better, starting today!
By Rachel A. Ewing, RD
Community Health Coordinator
Portneuf Health Care Foundation
August 3, 2014