With spring in the air, it’s easier to get outside and get moving. Along with healthy eating, physical activity is integral to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Research shows exercise not only aids in losing weight, but it is also crucial for keeping it off. Aside from burning calories, there are numerous other advantages to an active lifestyle, such as boosting metabolism, regulating your appetite, reducing stress, improving your quality of sleep, and decreasing your risk for heart disease, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.
What’s Considered Physical Activity?
Exercising doesn't have to mean hours in the gym, there are many ways to become more physically active.
Every Day Hacks
- Take the stairs.
- Park at the far end of the parking lot.
- Take a walk at lunchtime.
- Walk to the store instead of driving.
Sure, each of these little hacks may only burn you a few dozen calories at a pop. But incorporating them into your daily routine adds up.
- Enjoy activity with your friends and family: cycling, bowling, gardening, and dancing.
- Join a group of others who also enjoy your favorite activity, like a cycling club, hiking group, or swim team.
- Make date night an active one. Instead of going—once again—to your favorite restaurant on date night, sign up to take a dance class together, or channel your inner teenager and hit up the local rollerskating rink.
An ideal exercise program includes aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises. A good goal is to work up to exercising four to six times a week for 30 to 60 minutes each time.
- Aerobic Exercise burns calories and strengthens the cardiovascular system. How? Walking, swimming, bicycling, rowing, running, and aerobics classes. How Fast? Exercise at intensity where you are able to talk but not sing, and … sweat a little. How often? Four to six times a week, for 30 to 60 minutes each time.
- Strength Training builds muscles, increases lean body mass, and helps to strengthen bones. How? Calisthenics and weight lifting with free weights, resistance bands, Pilates, and weight machines. When? Should be done two to three times per week. The same muscle group should not be worked on consecutive days. How often? Start slowly, with lighter weights.
- Flexibility Exercise (stretching) keeps muscles flexible, improves joint healthy, and prevents injury. How? Yoga, Tai Chi, and Gyrotonic®. When? Should be done before and after aerobic and strength training exercise, targeting the muscles used. How often? Stretching every day can help maintain overall flexibility.
And if you still need more motivation to get up and get out there, guess what? There’s an app for that! There are virtually dozens of apps and gizmos to help you make squeezing in more daily movement into a game: from step-tracking apps and devices like FitBit to helpful little reminder apps like Move—which give you a little calorie-burning reminder every hour or so—getting more active has never been easier.
Now get out there and seize that spring!
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