Why Get Active?
We all know that exercise is good for us, but nearly 70% of Americans do not get the physical activity they need. Living an active life is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself and those you love. Simply put, daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life. If you get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day (like brisk walking), five times per week, you can almost guarantee yourself a healthier and more satisfying life while lowering your risks for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Parents, your children need 60 minutes a day–every day–so when you get active, you’re also modeling healthy living for the next generation.
The Price of Inactivity
If you exercise less than 150 minutes per week, you need to increase your activity level. Regular moderate intensity physical activity helps keep your heart in good condition. When you are inactive, you burn fewer calories, you are at higher risk for cholesterol problems, blood sugar and blood pressure problems, and your weight is often harder to manage. If that’s not enough, physically active people nearly always report better moods, less stress, more energy and a better outlook on life.
What Can I Do To Get Active?
- Make the time
Nearly all of us feel time-crunched and over-scheduled. And although anyone can fall into a busyness trap, only you can make your health a priority over life’s other demands. Even our nation’s President sets aside time to exercise. It can be done and only you can say ‘no’ to interruptions and ‘yes’ to your good health!
- Start with walking
Walking is one of the best ways to get started. It’s easy, it’s social, it requires no special equipment, and it works! Just walk fast enough to get your heart rate up. Most of us can expect to cover 2 miles or more in a thirty minute block of time. If thirty minutes seems like an impossible goal, start with less. Some physical activity is always better than none! You can chart your progress as you work your way toward your goals.
To increase physical activity in your lifestyle try:
1. Parking farther away from your destination.
2. Taking short, brisk walks throughout the workday, in 10-minute chunks of time. After dinner, bring your dog along for a walk around the neighborhood.
3. Organizing school activities around physical activity.
4. Riding your bike or walking to work.
Get Active Success Story:
Mike Wilson, Associate Superintendent of Schools
Mike says, “I applied [to lead our company in] the Start! Challenge program because of a deep commitment to work with the American Heart Association again and to change my life. I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy at age forty-four. I had a twin brother die of sudden death congestive heart failure at age forty-three. I recently lost my youngest sister the same way.”
After Mike’s sister died, he reviewed his lifestyle and determined he needed to make some changes. It was time to let go of excuses; there’s no good reason to sit around, to avoid exercise, and to gain weight and do nothing about it. Mike says, “I also know that without this change, I am a prime candidate to die of this disease at a young age. I want to enjoy my later years and be around to watch my grandsons grow up, and be able to spend quality time with them.”
“In addition, I want to serve as an example to those people like me.” Although many of us have afflictions and difficulties, we can still usually find ways to work, exercise, eat properly and improve our physical well-being. Mike’s cheer is, “No more excuses! We can do it!”
Mike previously worked with the American Heart Association as company leader for the Start! Walking Program and city-wide chairman for the 2007 American Heart Walk.