By: Rick Bellanti – August, 2018
We all know how important it is throughout our lives to stay healthy and active, especially as we get older. Keeping active and staying fit can add years to our lives and improve our overall happiness and well-being. We also know now, that it takes between two and three months of a consistent behavior to become a habit. Try not to change too much too soon; pick smaller goals that will be easy to manage and stick to, as these new changes become part of your routine, they will help you be successful in reaching your goals to a healthy you.
Staying active will not only help you live longer as mentioned above, but also has many health benefits, like lowering blood sugar and blood pressure, keeping your bones, muscles and joints healthy and a better night’s sleep which may also improve your overall mood. Staying active on a regular basis, even if you are not looking to lose weight or get into shape, will help you maintain these positive health benefits.
You can accomplish this by just incorporating moderate activity for as little as thirty minutes a day, for five days a week. That’s right, just two and a half hours a week of exercise, such as a brisk walk, swim or bike ride. You certainly don’t need to join a gym and work out for two hours a day, 7 days a week. This type of activity, in short thirty minute increments are easy to fit into the busiest of schedules and maintain. Physical activity also can be a lot of fun if you do activities you enjoy and are active with other people. Being active with family or friends may help you stick to the program and it may help inspire and motivate one another to get and stay active together.
I started out my physical activity by just walking one mile a day for thirty minutes (just five days a week), and gradually made it to two miles a day, now I’m up to three miles a day and it takes me one hour to complete. Walking is the easiest activity to accomplish daily, and you can do it anywhere and you don’t need a gym membership to do it. Best of all, walking has many health benefits, it burns calories, lifts your mood and helps strengthens your muscles and bones.
Sticking with a plan to be more active can be a challenge but the small changes you make daily, will improve your overall health so it doesn’t matter what you choose to do to be more active, you just want to keep moving. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work, park your vehicle in the furthest spot at the shopping center and walk or take your children or dog for a walk, even wash your car by hand.
If you want to take it to the next level you can track your physical activity by downloading a fitness app that may let you enter information to help track your progress using your smart phone or even a computer. You can wear a device like a pedometer or fitness tracker watch which may help you count daily steps, calories and minutes of physical activity on a daily basis. All these types of trackers can be good tools to keep you motivated and on track.
If you have been inactive for a long time, make sure you start slowly and see how you feel, then gradually increase how long and how often you are active – (don’t forget to check with your doctor or health professional before starting any type of exercise program). Don’t get discouraged if you have setbacks from time to time, it’s normal. If you can’t achieve your goal the first time or can only stick to your goals for part of the week, remind yourself that this is all part of establishing new habits. Remember life is a journey, not a race, there is no finish line and you are not being timed, take it one day at a time and at your own pace.
Rick Bellanti is a wellness columnist and is on a journey himself to lose 240lbs, and has lost 160lbs since the start of 2015. You can find Rick on Facebook at: Getting Healthy with Rick Bellanti