Today the world is designed around sitting. It didn’t used to be. Now we sit when we drive, we sit when we work, we sit when we watch TV, we sit when we eat… If you’re not making a conscious effort of it, you’re almost certainly getting well below the 10,000 steps per day you’ve heard about. Exercise over 50 doesn't just happen, you have to make it happen.
Well the truth is, people are designed for movement. Our bodies are not designed to be sedentary. Which leads inevitably to the familiar adage “use it or lose it.”
But does it have to be that way? Is it hard to move? Does it take huge time commitments? Do you have to commit big blocks of time? And what do you do when your job requires that you sit all day?
Take 5 minutes per hour to get up and move around. Keep a set of dumbbells in your office, and do body weight squats, curls, arm raises, dumbbell press, planks, side planks, bridges, walk the stairs, etc.
The simple fact is, exercise yields benefits that far exceed the capabilities of most medical treatments and interventions. We live in a world of instant gratification, but look: no pill will provide benefits like incorporating movement into your daily routine. And those benefits include improved mental health – being happier, improving your memory, reducing risk of dementia – to reduced risk of chronic illness and disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Additionally, maintaining your ability to function day to day – to walk, bike, golf, garden, get up and down the stairs, and generally live independently – is vastly improved when you exercise regularly. Do you want to risk your independence? If not, get active!
You can get healthier by adding activity to every day. Obviously, if you can find something you enjoy, that’s great. For many of us, we have to just make the decision to “just do it.”
Here are a few ideas:
- Use a restroom that’s on a different floor than you work on.
- Park at least a 5 minute walk from work.
- Park your car far away from the store.
- Sweep, mop or mow the lawn yourself, and do it with lots of energy.
- Take the stairs whenever possible.
- Get up and do bodyweight squats.
- Walk around your neighborhood. Mix it up – go different directions, explore different neighborhoods. Change pace. Pick a route, and do it a little faster every day.
- Go to Meetup.com and find an exercise related group to join. If there isn’t one, start one!
- Walk your dog. If you don’t have a dog, consider getting one.
- Find your local parks, and go for walks there.
- Get up early, and go for a 15-20 minute walk at the very start of your day.
- Take up gardening.
Even 15 minutes a day improves health – and it doesn’t have to be at once.
Staying active helps you build extra muscle reserve and flexibility to recover more quickly if you do sick. And get this: exercise isn’t only for your body; exercise decreases depression and anxiety, and improves and preserves cognitive functioning.
Make sure to take proper precautions. If you haven’t exercised lately, it’s important to start slowly and build yourself up to the point where you’re moving as quickly as you’d like. If you’re doing weights, and I hope you are, then make sure to warm up thoroughly.
If pain is an issue for you when you move, take your pain medication before you exercise. “Better living through chemistry” is my motto. Why endure pain, when it’s manageable?
Remember that it’s important to stretch. Flexibility improves balance helps reduce injuries. to your joints. If you’re worried about falling, a 12-week tai chi program can substantially improve your strength and balance.
If you’re worried about injury, talk to your doctor.
Get to it and do it.