The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, is challenging everyone to get moving.
“The human body was designed to move,” says Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., FAAFP, and American Heart Association’s chief medical officer for prevention. “Your body thanks you for moving by relieving anxiety, depression, and even anger, and rewards you by making your brain and heart stronger.”
Not only can moving more help improve self-confidence, energy levels and sleep quality, those who are physically active and at a healthy weight live about seven years longer than those who are not active and are obese.
The American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. That is only 30 minutes a day, five days a week. And three 10-minute brisk walks count towards the goal. However, only about 22% of American adults meet the federal physical activity recommendations for aerobic and strengthening activity. And, about one in three adults participates in no leisure time physical activity at all.
Recent American Heart Association research showed that it didn’t seem to matter whether exercise came in short bursts or longer bouts, the health benefits were similar. Results of the six-year study concluded that it doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as your moderate to vigorous exercise adds up to the recommended 150 minutes per week, you win.
The American Heart Association’s Healthy For Good movement encourages everyone to get moving with the following tips:
1. Work it… at Work – Whether you work in an office, at home or behind the wheel, chances are you spend a lot of time sitting. Try moving more while you perform routine tasks. Start by taking one weekly meeting to-go by walking while you meet. Other options include taking the stairs more often, parking farther out or taking stretch breaks throughout the day. If you are having trouble finding time, schedule exercise and treat it as you would a work meeting.
2. Play with Fido – Most pet owners will tell you that having a pet can relieve stress and boost overall happiness. But did you know that according to one study, dog-walkers got an average of 30 minutes more exercise a day than non-walkers.
3. Make it a Family Affair – You don’t need to break the bank to move more with your kids. There are numerous tips to keep your family active on the cheap. Want to get out? Go for a walk around the mall or check out recreation centers in your neighborhood.
4. Make it a hobby – Find activities that fit your personality and motivate you to stick with them. If you’re a social person, try a group dance class, a kickball team or walking with a group of friends. If you prefer time alone, yoga or running might be a better fit. Daily chores can also help to meet your goal. Gardening, lawn mowing, and yard work are a great way to get active outdoors.
Having a commitment or goal, like being active for at least 150 minutes each week, will help you stay on track. Share it with others to keep yourself accountable. If you’re the competitive type, challenge friends, family or coworkers and see who can consistently meet their goals over time.
Find resources and join the movement to be Healthy For Good at heart.org/MoveMore.