Getting Ready to Get Active

to get fit, treat exercise more like play and less like a chore

Mary Pica-Anderson, photos by Andrea Paulseth

People in our world are becoming more and more sedentary. No matter what age we are, we seem to be spending more time in front of televisions and computers. We rarely walk or ride a bike to get around, and we seem to gravitate to elevators and escalators to avoid climbing steps. In 2008, the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services released the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, an extensive, research-based document that called on all adults to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week.

When we were young we would spend this time playing team sports or just swinging and running around the playground. Now that we are older, we often look upon physical activity as a chore, but what we really need to do is to change that thought and to see active living as a way to spend time playing. Even more exciting is the news that no matter what your age is, you will get many positive results from increasing your daily activity. So as a reminder, this means no matter how old you are you can see positive results by increasing your daily activity.

There are plenty of good reasons to add physical activity to your life. Something as simple as a 30-minute brisk walk every day can make a big difference in your physical and mental health. Here are some results you can expect:

  • More energy.
  • Brighter mental outlook.
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.
  • Healthy bones, joints, and muscles.
  • Better weight control.
  • Maintained fitness and flexibility.
  • Reduced risk of depression.
  • Improved sleep quality.
  • Healthier and longer independent life.

If a pill could offer these results, everyone would want to take one. However, while there is no such pill, there are simple, easy, and enjoyable ways to add activity to your life:

  • Walking instead of driving when you can.
  • Climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
  • Dancing.
  • Riding a bike.
  • Gardening.
  • Tennis.
  • Golfing.

Most people do not need to be convinced that they should be more active, they simply need to learn how to fit activity into their daily schedule.

First and foremost, if you are not currently physically active be sure to talk to your doctor. Let your doctor know that you plan to become more active in your daily living. After getting the OK, take the time to plan physical activity in your day. Create your own activity plan and concentrate on activities you can add to your daily routine. Take one step at a time and go at your own pace. It can be as simple as getting up and moving during commercials, while watching your grandchildren play a sport, or while waiting for the oven to heat up for supper - just start moving and you will see the difference active living every day can make in your life.

Mary Pica-Anderson is executive director of the L.E. Phillips Senior Center.