Fitness Facts: Improving your physical fitness
By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, which makes it a perfect time to spread the word about the benefits of getting active. Regular physical activity is good for EVERYONE’s health regardless of age or body type.
- For children and adolescents, physical activity improves muscular strength and bone health and decreases the risk of heart disease.
- In adults, physical activity lowers the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and many cancers.
- In the older adult population, regular physical activity lowers the risk of falls and improves learning and judgment skills.
You do not need to be an all-star athlete or experienced trainer to start with an exercise routine.
Start with small changes such as taking a walk after dinner, going for a bike ride or playing outdoor games with your children or friends. You will be surprised by how much walking can increase your fitness level and improve your health.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.”
Walking also can tame your sweet tooth by reducing the cravings and intake of a variety of sugary snacks, ease joint pain and boost immune function.
Another study of more than 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day at least five days a week had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration and their symptoms were milder.
Healthy adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity at least three days per week. You can pick an aerobic activity and a strengthening activity you enjoy, start slowly, add a little at a time, set goals, stay motivated and overcome roadblocks.
Tracking your progress can help you keep moving. A Fitbit or Apple watch are great ways to keep track of your daily activity. Many of them have reminders already set up. They can tell you when to stand and move and when you reach your goals.
Be safe — start slowly, drink plenty of liquids and talk with your health care professional if you have a health problem or an injury. Choose activities you enjoy and try new ones. Reward yourself!
Whatever way you choose to increase your activity, do it and get your move on to better health!