How to be more physically active

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If you’ve heard about the importance of physical activity but haven’t yet started a new routine, don’t worry—you may already be doing more than you realize.

There are plenty of things you do every day that qualify as physical activity, says Dr. Jay Shah, family physician and primary care sports medicine physician. Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center in Pomona, California. These include:

  • Carrying food.
  • Climbing the stairs.
  • Gardening.
  • Car wash.
  • Playing with your children.
  • Walking the dog.
  • Doing housework.

These activities are functional movement training. In other words, by engaging in such activities over the long term, you build strength and endurance for everyday movements.

How to include more physical activity

To get into the rhythm of physical activity, you should start small and gradually increase. Shah recommends gradually increasing the frequency, intensity and duration of exercise build muscle growth.

She also suggests actively looking for ways to increase daily movement, such as:

  • Instead of the elevator, they decided on the stairs.
  • If possible, walk or cycle to work.
  • Walk during breaks in work.

You can also incorporate physical activity into your daily life by asking loved ones to join you.
“By doing it activities as a groupevery member of the family can encourage each other and give each other motivational support,” explains Shah. “This could be a great way to spend time with the family.”

Risks of Rincreasing physical activity

While being active is a critical part of overall health and fitness, it’s important not to overdo it. It takes time for your body to get used to a new training regimen, even if it’s based on routine tasks like gardening or cleaning your house.

“One of the biggest problems I see in my clinic is people who have either started exercising after a period of inactivity or have switched to a new and much more intense exercise program,” says Dr. Justin Mullner, sports medicine physician Hello Orlando Jewett Orthopedic Institute of Florida.

The problem, explains Mullner, who also serves as team physician for the Orlando City Soccer Club and the Orlando Pride, is that jumping into a new workout doesn’t allow your muscles, tendons and bones to properly adjust to the amount of force being applied. them. As a result, they become painful and inflamed, leading to muscle tensiontendinitis and stress fractures.

Instead, start small and build up slowly. As with any exercise protocol, it’s best to check with your healthcare provider before starting a new activity, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.

Include strength training

Also called resistance trainingstrength training refers to physical activity in which your muscles contract against an external force, such as dumbbells, hand weights, or exercise machines.

Strength training also adds variety health benefitsincluding:

  • Maintaining bone density, which can help stave off osteoporosis and reduce the risk of fractures.
  • Improving mobility, muscle strength and endurance.
  • Joint stabilization that can reduce your chances of injury and lead to fewer falls, especially as you get older.
  • Supporting good cognitive function and improve your mood and self-esteem.
  • Strengthening your metabolismor your basal metabolic rate to help you burn more calories and maintain or reach your ideal weight.
  • Decreasing blood pressure and promotes good heart health.

When you’re lifting at home — like carrying bulky groceries or picking up younger children — Shah says you should always be intentional about your movements.
“Tighten your core when doing housework,” she advises. “Use proper lifting technique when lifting heavy objects.”

Don’t forget to add cardio

In addition to strength training, you should focus on engaging regularly cardiovascular activity. For example, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular activity per week, along with two days of strength training per week, Shah says.

Sydney Warpness, a strength and conditioning coach and certified CrossFit trainer based in St. Augustine, Florida, says that virtually any activity that makes it a little harder to breathe can qualify as cardio. This may include household chores such as mowing the lawn or carrying the laundry upstairs. It can also include fun activities like going for a walk or a simple dance in your living room.

“The key to all of this is basically getting your heart rate up,” says Warpness.

And that key can unlock some serious fitness benefits.

“Cardio is great for your cardiovascular system because it helps strengthen your heart and lungs,” says Warpness. “A healthy cardiovascular system will improve overall health and longevity.”

The more cardio you do – i.e. the longer you’ll last increased heart rate – the more benefit you get.

“Cardio helps you build stamina and endurance, which allows you to push harder for longer periods of time without getting tired,” explains Warpness.

Make fitness a lifelong habit

The bottom line is, no matter how you exercise, just do it. Whether you’re weeding the garden or walking up and down the stairs, there are plenty of ways to add movement to your daily routine.

You should too make exercise a lifelong habit to reap the full benefits of physical and mental health, says Mullner. To make fitness a little easier, she suggests finding activities you enjoy.

“If you don’t enjoy the exercise you’re doing, or worse, you really dread it, then you’ll be less likely to continue doing the activity and therefore miss out on many of the great benefits it brings,” he explains.

Once you find an exercise you like, commit to it.

“Consistency is key,” says Warpness. “You have to teach your body that (being) fit and healthy is the new normal and the only way to keep it is to stick with it. Once you find something that works for you, stick with it.”