As temperatures drop, we brace for the cold by piling on hats, scarves, gloves, heavy sweaters and coats. We spend more time indoors watching television, eating, sleeping, surfing the Internet and anything else to escape the cold.
Most adults don’t get enough physical activity, especially during this time of the year. We need to get moving!
Physical activity has a number of benefits for the body and mind. Exercise reduces our risk for type 2 diabetes, high-blood pressure and heart disease. It helps us reduce stress and lose weight (or maintain a healthy weight).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults engage in physical activities of moderate intensity for at least 30-minutes, five or more days a week.
Many of us use time or money as an excuse for inactivity. If time is a concern, you can still make physical activity part of your daily routine by splitting your activity into smaller increments of time.
For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk to lunch instead of driving. Physical activity does not have to cost much. Work out at home; do sit-ups, step aerobics or lift small weights while watching television.
Make the time to get active. You are worth it. Get others involved. Ask a friend to become your exercise buddy. Make exercise a family affair. Go to your local library or video store to get an aerobic exercise DVD. Take turns creating new exercises and dance steps. Follow these steps to get moving:
- Set a small goal toward increasing your physical activity.
- Write down your goal on paper and place it where you can see it each day.
- Make sure the goal is something you can measure (i.e., number of minutes you will spend doing the activity).
- Set a deadline and monitor progress (e.g., starting February 1, I will walk at least three times per week for 30-minutes).
- Get a buddy involved.
- Have fun!
If you have been inactive for a long time, start by incorporating changes gradually and consult your physician. Once you reach your goal, don’t stop; set a new one. Get moving to stay healthy!
About the Author
Dedra D. Ries, MPH, is a community health educator with University of Illinois Extension, Cook County. To learn more about health programs in your area contact her at 773-768-7779 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://web.extension.uiuc.edu/cook/commhealth.html.
University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in an Extension program, please contact your local Extension office.