There is almost no denying that staying active and maintaining a consistent level of physical activity have become increasingly difficult in our society today. In fact, sedentary living has become a new “norm” for many.
However, in a society where sedentary living has taken on this role, it’s easy to see why we take great interest and concern for our weight and health. Physical activity and frequent exercise are important for our bodies to stay healthy and functional. Without it, other areas of our life and body begin to suffer.
Why is this and what can we do about it? Below, we explore the relationship between our levels of physical activity and the resulting effects on our bodies.
Why are We Less Active?
Take a look at your average day. For many of us, this means juggling the responsibilities of our family and social circles, job demands, financial needs and more. Usually, this gives us little room to devote to exercise and fitness – especially when these demands take on a more sedentary role as part of our lifestyle.
For example, someone who works eight hours at a desk every day and comes home to pay bills, cook dinner and maintain their home leaves little to no room for increasing their levels of physical activity. Unfortunately, this example is not uncommon.
Over the years, the types of jobs which have become available take on different kinds of physical activity. Higher-intensity jobs such as manufacturing and labor-specific jobs have declined, while lower-intensity jobs in the service and professional industries for example have increased. This is typical of many first-world countries. In fact…
- In 1960, 1 out of 2 Americans held a job where physical activity was involved.
- Today, only 1 in 5 Americans hold a job where physical activity is involved.
Additionally, factors such as outside temperature, culture, eating patterns, social lives and activities, etc. sometimes make it harder for us to find time for physical activity.
Getting Active: Our Bodies and Physical Activity
Our bodies thrive on exercise, and all kinds of physical activity can play a significant role in our weight and health. By participating in regular physical activity, we reap astounding physical and mental health benefits such as:
- Improved Mental Health – Less stress, anxiety and depression
- Greater Endurance – More energy and stamina for exercise and daily life
- Healthier Weight – Including weight-loss and weight maintenance, depending on what stage of our weight journey we are at
- Stronger Bodies – Increased muscle mass, healthier bone density, etc.
- Improved Vitals – Healthier cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc.
- An overall higher quality of life!
Now, you may notice that as we age, fitness levels have a tendency to decline. However, research has shown that even a moderate increase in daily activity each day/week can increase health significantly. This means the most important thing you can do to achieve greater activity and increased fitness for your health is to just get out there and move!
Regular aerobic activity and resistance training can have miraculous effects on the body. Your method of achieving those effects depends on you, your time constraints, fitness level, health concerns, etc. For some, aiming for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or more, five days a week is ideal. If you’re participating in more vigorous exercise, you might even aim for a little less.
Let’s end with a few basic steps to get you up and moving:
- Assess Your Current Activity Level – How much physical activity are you getting each day/week? What effect is that amount having on your body?
- Develop a Plan – Based on your previous assessment, what kind of exercise plan or routine can you create that will help you reach your goals? Remember to factor in the amount of time you have, what your body is physically capable of at this moment and what you need to do to be successful.
- Allow Time to Improve – Once your exercise routine begins to get easier, stop and determine if it’s time to take it up a notch. Should you exercise for longer periods of time? Identify what comes next.
Looking for more information about getting active? To learn more about staying active in a sedentary world, you can watch the full video presentation with Dr. Tim Church from OAC’s 2012 Your Weight Matters National Convention by CLICKING HERE.