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Fight Your Inner Couch Potato By Staying Active
By Caroline Pak, PharmD, Medical Editor-in-Chief - This article originally published on Get Healthy Stay Healthy.
How many hours every day do you sit? If you're like most Americans, you probably spend many hours sitting down in front of the television, at a computer, or behind the wheel of your car. A 2003 survey of over 6,000 children and adults in the U.S. indicated that most people sit for more than an average of 7 hours a day.
Whether you're a desk jockey or sofa spud, moving around is important to your health. In fact, along with eating right and maintaining a healthy weight, the CDC recommends that adults under age 65 get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week — activities like brisk walking or swimming. With over 78 million American adults weighing in at heavy or obese with related conditions (2011-2012), such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, sitting around may be more damaging than you think!
Before starting any new exercise regimen, be sure to consult your doctor.
Get Moving! Stay Active!
The American Heart Association offers easy tips for getting active both at home, work or play. Here are some ways to help you get started:
- Pick up the pace at home. When watching TV, sit up and stretch instead of lying on the sofa. Better yet, pedal a stationary bike while watching TV. Take a short walk (choose a hilly route), do your own housework, rake those leaves, or take out that trash
- Plan outings that include physical activities with family and friends. Go for a hike, go backpacking, or try swimming. See the sights by walking, jogging, or bicycling
- Join a fitness center. Work out before or after work. You can also walk during business calls, take the stairs, or stroll over to coworker's decks to speak instead of using the phone
- Leave your car behind. Finding a parking spot can be a hassle anyway. Why not walk or bike to places near you? And, when you go to the mall, try parking as far away as you can and walk to the store
Don't be afraid to let your imagination loose and get creative! Physical activity can be anything, as long as you keep moving! Modify sports and workouts to fit your level of fitness. Whether it's replacing your chair with an exercise ball, lifting weights while watching TV, or working out during your lunch break, think outside of the box.
Staying motivated can be difficult. But there are things you can do to increase your chance for success. For example:
- Reward yourself when you reach a goal or complete a challenge
- Use technology like a smart-phone app, a fitness watch, or a similar wearable tool to track fitness levels, so you can see results and progress daily
- Incorporate activities into your everyday routine to increase blood flow, tone muscles, improve your mood, and help with weight control—ultimately leading to a healthier you
Still sitting at your screen reading this article? Now might be the perfect time to get up, get out, and get active!
- Matthews CE, Chen KY, Freedson PS, et. al. Amount of time spent in sedentary behaviors I the United States, 2003-2004. Am J Epidemiol. 1 April 2008; 167(7): 875-881.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How much physical activity do adults need? Accessed: October 27, 2015.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adult obesity facts. Accessed: October 27, 2015.
- American Heart Association. Get moving: Easy tips to get active! Accessed: October 27, 2015.
- American Heart Association. No time to exercise? Try our top 10 tips to get more! Accessed: October 27, 2015.
- American Heart Association. Celebrating your fitness success. Accessed: October 27, 2015.
- Higgins JP. Smartphone applications for patients' health and fitness. Am J Med. In press.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Healthy lifestyle: Fitness. Mayo Clinic Web site. Accessed: October 27, 2015