- - Monday, January 11, 2016

Our New Year’s resolutions reflect our hope and desire to bring about a better us. Our health, whether it is to eat better, exercise more, stress less, or quit smoking, is often a part of this list. And while we understand the importance of our resolutions, in reality, making and sticking to them somehow may be two completely different things.

When it comes to exercising, the demands of everyday life are often to blame for bringing this noble goal to a screeching halt. However, while we may not have 1-2 hours to dedicate to daily gym workouts, we have 24 hours in each and every day where we can incorporate more physical activity into our daily routines. And studies have shown that even short bursts of physical activity throughout the day can have a cumulative benefit, at any age.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: To Incorporate Physical Activity Into Our Daily

Why is physical activity important? Our bodies were meant to move. Staying active has been shown to increase our lifespan; strengthen our muscles and bones; stay at a healthy weight; sleep better; and improve our mood. And, if we do not make time for exercise we will likely have to find time for illness. A sedentary lifestyle increases our risk for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and stroke.

What is a sedentary lifestyle? A sedentary lifestyle is a type of lifestyle with no or irregular physical activity.

How can I turn sit time into fit time?
• While watching television, pedal on a stationary bike or walk on a treadmill. Alternatively, consider doing push ups, sit ups, lifting weights (or water bottles), or doing jumping jacks during commercial breaks. One mother told me that it was a family rule to dance around when there was a commercial. If anyone was caught sitting on the couch, they were assigned an additional chore, so everyone made sure to cha-cha-cha. Another trick is to side-line the remote control and get up to change the channel.
• During our kid’s sports games, instead of sitting, pace the sidelines.
• While making and returning phone calls, walk on the treadmill, stand up, move around, stretch, or practice our balance by standing on one foot at a time.

How can I move more at home … and save money?
• Gardening can burn lots of calories: raking, mowing, pulling weeds, digging, and planting.
• Housework is no sedentary matter. Between vacuuming, sweeping, picking up things, doing laundry, or making our beds, calories are sure to be burnt.

What can I do when I go shopping?
• Instead of spending 5-10 minutes looking for the closest parking spot near the front door of the store, park as far away as possible, and walk briskly to the door.
• While at the mall, take laps. In addition to being perfectly climate controlled (not too hot, not too cold), there is lots to see and discover.
• At the grocery or drug store, walk through every aisle. And if we are carrying a basket, do biceps curls and make sure to alternate arms.

What can I do while I am sitting in traffic or at a stoplight?
• Core workout. Consider placing our hands against the roof of our car, pushing up with our arms, and squeezing our abs at the same time for 10 seconds. This technique can strengthen the arms, shoulders, back, and core.
• Crush the steering wheel. While stopped at a red light, grip the wheel at opposite ends, and try to push our hands toward each other for 3 seconds. Then try to pull your hands away from each other for 3 seconds.
• Stretching. Slowly rotate our neck in a circle; place our ear to our shoulder and alternate; move our chin to our chest and then straighten. Shoulder shrugs can also be performed in both the forward and backward direction.

What can we do to increase our physical activity during the workday?
• Walk around or stand while brainstorming project ideas with coworkers, giving presentations, or making phone calls. And, instead of shooting an email or calling someone within the building, go visit them in person.
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator, whenever possible.
• During breaks, personify the Madagascar song “I Like to Move It.” Walk around or within the building, stretch, or do leg lifts or lunges. Look for creative ways to avoid spending the entire break sitting.
• If possible, get a stand-up desk, or a treadmill where a laptop can be secured.
• Measure up with a pedometer. This can help keep track of how active we are. The goal should be to take at least 7,000 steps in a day.

Physical activity is one of the best prescriptions to improve our overall health and fitness while decreasing our risk for many chronic diseases. As we work to find ways to balance regular exercise with our hectic schedules, let’s also find creative ways to incorporate physical activities within our daily routine. We should heed the advice of Frank Forencich: “Warning: Before beginning a program of physical inactivity, consult your doctor. Sedentary living is…dangerous for your health.”

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