There's no disputing it: to be healthy, people need to be active! But with all the conveniences of our modern lifestyle, more and more of us are living an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and putting our health in jeopardy. In fact, physical inactivity is as dangerous to our health as smoking!
The good news is that increasing activity levels in day to day life doesn't have to be difficult. If it's been a while since you were physically active on a regular basis, the experts recommend that you start slowly and build up. A variety of simple activities undertaken throughout the day, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to work, or doing chores around the house, can deliver important health benefits and help motivate the planning of physical activity into leisure time. Try adding physical activity into your day in 10-minute bouts and set a total goal of 30-60 minutes of light to moderate activity daily. In no time at all, you'll be hitting the trail for an all day hike!Here's what else the experts recommend:
- Plan ahead. Until physical activity becomes a natural and important part of your day, you have to plan to fit it in. Pick a time of day that suits your lifestyle and your schedule. Morning, afternoon, or evening -- it really doesn't matter. Experiment and find a comfortable routine.
- Make haste slowly. In the early stages of a program, concentrate on participating regularly and enjoying yourself. Don't rush or force things. Look for improvement over the long term, not overnight.
- Look for a 'lift'. People who exercise regularly say their sessions leave them relaxed, refreshed ... and more energetic. Research also shows that activity has a positive effect on mood. Short bouts of activity lead to significant, temporary decreases in tension, depression, and fatigue.
- Don't get down. It's natural to miss sessions from time to time. Work or family responsibilities may get in the way. And if you're tired, it's sometimes better to take a day off. When you do miss a session, start planning for your next outing. Don't feel as though you've failed this time.
- Finally, have fun. Pursue activities for reasons that are important to you - enjoyment, relaxation, friendship, whatever. Few people stick with an activity program just because it's good for them.
(Source: Tips For An Active Life, Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, www.cflri.ca)