Our bodies were designed to move.
Science proves that physical activity lowers the risk of significant health problems including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity and even depression. But in today’s world we’ve become increasingly inactive and our quality of life, physical health and mental health have suffered as a result.
Here, fitness expert Nicola Addison gives us three top tips for staying active in day-to-day life.
1. Natural activity could mean a longer lifespan
Communities in so called Blue Zones - where people, on average, live extraordinarily long and healthy lives – all have one thing in common: they keep moving throughout their lives. TV, mobile phones, general laziness and our modern way of living means we’ve become sedentary creatures of habit and are failing to fit enough natural movement into our daily routine.
Nicola says, ‘Research shows Amazonian hunters have the healthiest hearts because they take up to 17,000 steps in a day. Though we Brits struggle to reach even 10,000 steps on some days, it’s surprising what a little extra can do. Going for a brisk walk at lunchtime and parking further away from the supermarket may both be suggestions you’ve heard before, but they really do work. Fitness trackers are a great way to keep track of your daily step count – and they can motivate you to reach your goal, too.'
2. Keep it fun
We don’t all have to be marathon runners or gym junkies. Often the best exercise is fun exercise, which reveals itself in all manner of ways.
Nicola says, ‘Try a regular walk; a bicycle ride; a Saturday morning parkrun; a dance; walking up steps; gardening; stretching – any form of physical activity can help. Exercising outdoors also means you’ll boost your vitamin D intake, an added bonus!’
3. Don’t be a couch potato
It’s worth noting that even regular exercise may not counteract the impact of too much regular sitting. Being a ‘couch potato’ could be harmful even if you get regular exercise. The key is to keep moving. And as Albert Einstein once said, ‘Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving’.
Nicola says, ‘We burn more calories standing up then we do when we’re sitting down. Think outside the box and get on your feet as much as possible. At work try walking meetings. At home, instead of sitting in the car whilst it’s being washed, get on your feet and wash it yourself! Movement and exercise help improve concentration so not only will this benefit your physical health, it will benefit your mental wellbeing and your work-life, too’.
And remember, age is just a number
Though it’s tempting to give into a sedentary lifestyle as you age – your strength and muscle mass declines, your bones tend to be weaker and your fat mass increases - this is exactly the wrong thing to do.
Whilst we can’t slow down our chronological age, we can change the way we age. Activity is the key and every little bit really does help.
These suggestions can be incorporated into any everyday routine and are a simple way to keep those muscles strong and fat mass low.