Increase lifestyle activities to benefit your health

Reducing sedentary behaviors and finding time to be active are crucial to healthy living.

Physical activity should be an important part of our lives to keep our muscles and hearts strong. It is beneficial in so many ways such as improving your general well-being, improving your mood, especially after the holidays and winter, reducing stress and improving sleep.

What happens to our bodies when we aren’t being physically active? Are we sitting at a desk for work or watching hours of our favorite television shows? Or maybe working on a sedentary project like quilting or painting? We all have times of the day where we are sedentary and some of that is much deserved, but too much inactivity can be very unhealthy.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.” This new research is concerning considering that many of us experience long periods of time each day sitting at a desk or driving in a vehicle or watching various screens. In addition to making sure that you are getting the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity each week, you can also incorporate lifestyle activity into each day to help break up the long periods that are being spent sitting.

Lifestyle activity involves making active choices rather than inactive choices throughout the day. For example, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking your car farther away from your destination instead of as close as you can are considered lifestyle activity. They only take an extra minute or two, but those minutes add up and make a difference. These choices add up to a more active you. They are generally too brief to count as your physical activity but can make a difference in your overall activity.

Some other ideas include walking to a nearby store instead of driving, using a rake instead of a leaf blower, standing while talking on the phone and washing your car instead of going through the car wash. When you are watching television, try cutting it in half and turn it into walking time. Walk around during commercials, ride an exercise bike, or lift weights.

Whatever lifestyle activity you decide each day to incorporate, always keep safety in mind. Do not do more than you can handle, start in small increments and slowly increase the amount of activitiy over time. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Know when to stop any activity, especially if it is causing chest pain. Keeping yourself safe while keeping healthy are important for your well-being.

Find more about healthy lifestyles and programs at the Michigan State University Extension website

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