Did you know that 80 percent of the U.S. population falls short of the Physical Activity Guidelines recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services? Millions of Americans are risking serious health consequences simply because they do too much sitting and not enough moving around. You may not find that information shocking, especially if you’re one of those 80 percent. What really might surprise you, however, is just how easily you can give your daily activity level a dramatic boost. Here are seven simple tips from our physical therapist for adding some much-needed additional exercise to your life.
1. Walk Instead of Drive
Many people automatically get into their cars even for a brief trip to the mailbox or corner store. What if you spent an extra few minutes each day walking instead of driving? It might not sound like much of a workout, but walking increases the circulation, exercises your legs and feet, sheds excess pounds, keeps your joints limber and helps to release stress.
2. Get a Bicycle
If that trip to the corner store takes too much time on foot, maybe it’s time you remembered how to ride a bicycle. Cycling exercises different muscles than walking, making it a valuable complement to that discipline when you need to go a little farther and a little faster. It also provides you with a significant cardio workout.
3. Take Up a New Sport
Getting that extra activity doesn’t have to be a chore; it could just as easily take the form of new fun. Have you thought of taking up tennis, golf, surfing, swimming, running, or a team sport such as soccer or softball? These sports all offer different physical benefits, and they all get you up and moving.
4. Join a Yoga Class
Physical activity isn’t always a matter of running or jumping around at a frenetic pace. Yoga offers profound benefits to body and mind by releasing stress, stretching muscles, increasing your range of motion, and helping you master your breathing. A yoga class offers structured learning as well as a positive social environment.
5. Stand at Your Desk
Standing desks have become all the rage in workplaces, and for good reason. Standing at your desk instead of sitting can help prevent unwanted weight gain, regulate blood sugar levels after meals, ease back pain, elevate your mood and energy level, reduce your heart disease risk and add years to your life expectancy. You may even find that you get more work done!
6. Turn “Couch Potato Time” Into a Workout
There’s nothing wrong with spending some quality time watching your favorite TV shows or movies — but you don’t necessarily have to spend all those hours sprawled on your couch, motionless. Consider getting a stationary bike or treadmill that you can use while you’re catching up on your stories. You’ll have just as much fun, but you’ll be working out instead of sacking out.
7. Exercise With Your Dog
Have you ever marveled at the sheer energy and endurance displayed by your dog? Dogs love to walk, run, play catch and explore. Join in these activities, and you’ll find that your dog gives you one heck of a workout.
One Final Tip: Get Physical Therapy
Are there activities on this list that you’d love to try — if only your body would let you? Physical therapy could get you back in shape to get into better shape.