Make physical activity a 2021 New Year’s resolution

Consider incorporating more physical activity into your daily routine as one of your goals for 2021.

An older couple smiling while walking a bicycle over a bridge.
Photo: Flickr

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions associated with better health. Michigan State University Extension encourages you to make 2021 the year to incorporate more physical activity into your life.

According to The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, the benefits of regular physical activity include:

  • Immediate benefits, such as brain health, which includes thinking, learning and judgment skills as you age.
  • Weight management to maintain your weight or to lose and keep it off.
  • Reduce your health risk of:
    • Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke).
    • Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
    • Some cancers, such as bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung and stomach.
  • Strengthens your bones and muscles.
  • Improves your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls.
  • Increase your chances of living longer.   

Adults should work towards at least two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes total) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, along with muscle strengthening activities that work the major muscle groups. Moderate-intensity aerobic activities will make a person breathe harder than normal, break a sweat and increase the heart rate. Brisk walking, hiking and riding a bike are examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities. Lifting weights, using elastic bands and digging or shoveling will help work the body’s muscles to increase strength and improve flexibility

More than two hours may sound like a lot of time, but it doesn’t have to be done all at once! Exercising works best if it is spread out during the course of a week; it can also be done in smaller increments of time during the day. Everyday activities like housecleaning, shoveling snow and walking up the stairs can get the heart beating and strengthen muscles. The important thing to remember is to start slowly, choose activities that you enjoy and recognize your success along the way.

If you have a chronic health condition such as arthritis, diabetes or heart disease, MSU Extension recommends working with your doctor to come up with a plan that provides specific amounts and types of exercise that are appropriate for your physical abilities and prevents injury or discomfort.

MSU Extension offers programs that focus on health, nutrition and physical activity. For programs currently being offered online, check out our Food and Health website for more information on programs such as Tai Chi for Arthritis and Falls Prevention and Eat Healthy Be Active.

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