Sedentary Vs Active Lifestyle – Benefits and Tips to Exercising
Human beings aren’t designed for a sedentary lifestyle. We are made to move! The feeling of fresh air and sunshine, as well as any activity always makes us feel good on the inside! Having an active lifestyle can lead to having a stronger immune system, needing less sleep and feeling less tired, feeling less pain, as well as positive changes in brain chemistry by releasing ‘happy’ endorphins which make us all feel better!
However, with long days at the office and technology constantly at our fingertips, we end up sitting indoors and looking at computers, phones and tablets for many hours a day. Many studies have shown that having a sedentary lifestyle can be linked to decreased energy levels, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and very commonly – back pain, neck pain, stiffness and tight muscles, poor posture and headaches.
The benefits of becoming more active are enormous. Participating in daily exercise, or even gentle stretches, not only helps to prevent and relieve back pain, but it also does wonders for our minds – helping to reduce stress, decrease pain and improve our mood!
There have been many research studies that have proven the benefits of exercise.
Benefits of exercise include:
- Weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight
- Stress Reduction
- Decreases risk of heart disease
- Help manage and control blood sugar level and insulin level, and type 2 diabetes
- Helps maintain a healthy blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels
- Helps musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis and joint stiffness and muscle tightness
- Helps muscles and bone strength and bone density
- Helps balance and proprioception which is very important as we age to prevent falls and injury
- Helps improve mental health and improve mood, and decreases feelings of stress and anxiety
- Helps prevent osteoporosis and bone weakening
- Helps recover better from periods of rest or illness
- Helps improve sleep quality and makes you feel better in general health
Being active doesn’t mean you need to go for a run or hit the gym, but stretching throughout the day, going for a walk during your lunch break or after dinner, or even gardening can be therapeutic.
Tips for moving during the day can include:
- Getting up from your desk every hour and going to get a drink of water. While you are up, roll your shoulders backwards, and take several deep breaths.
- If there is an option to take the stairs instead of an elevator, do! Incidental walking is always beneficial!
- Stretch your quadriceps and pectoral muscles daily as this helps with improving posture
- Go outside during your lunch break to get 10 minutes of fresh air and Vitamin D. Vitamin D is vital for calcium absorption as well as for muscle and overall health.
If you are sedentary and want to be more active but not sure how, or are scared to even start, don’t put pressure on yourself that things have to change immediately and you need to hit the gym. Start slowly! – a walk around the block is great, and this can be 10-15 minutes a few days per week. And as you are feeling more confident in moving, the intensity and pace that you may walk at and the length of time that you may go for can slowly increase too.
Other ways to be inspired to be more active is to make the activity social as well as good for your health! Meet a friend at the park or at the beach – by having someone to walk and talk with, it can be a very unassuming way to exercise. And it’s a great commitment to each other and much harder to cancel on someone or decide not to go last minute! Or if you prefer to walk alone, take some music with you and walk to the beat, or listen to an e-book – this can help the time pass quickly too.
Other social exercises can be bike riding, or even meeting a friend at the swimming pool to walk in the water together and then enjoy sitting in the spa afterwards! Family outdoor activities can be great as well to get the whole family involved and moving. This can include trips to the zoo, playing games in the park, swimming as a family or even walking around a museum!
Activities that also encourage movement can include gentle yoga and Pilates. There are many pilates studios which have small classes or individual 1:1 sessions which really focus specifically on YOU on YOUR health and movements – and are far cry from a gym class with 50 people in the room all doing the same exercise!
The hardest part of getting moving is just the beginning… Once you have found a routine and set realistic and enjoyable and achievable goals, having an active lifestyle will be rewarding both physically and mentally!