Step It Up in 2015!
by Carrie Camin
Assistant Vice President, Wellness
Methodist Health System
I think King Julien from the “Madagascar” movies has the right idea for a 2015 resolution — move it! Making the New Year an active one could well be one of the healthiest ways to pave the road ahead.
Research has shown the overwhelming positive effects of regular activity. It doesn’t have to be a marathon, though. A casual bike ride or a walk around the neighborhood with a friend can be as beneficial as more strenuous exercise that can lead to possible injuries later in life. Cardiovascular exercise keeps the old ticker in tune and is critical to improved overall well-being.
Another important component for a healthier 2015 is resistance training to build and maintain lean muscle mass. Not a member of a gym? That’s okay. You can easily set up resistance training routines around your home using stairs, light weights, or floor exercises such as straight leg raises and planks.
Regular activity has many positive benefits:
- Promotes good cholesterol, which can help you avoid the costly effects of chronic illness
- Boosts metabolism and increases circulation throughout your body
- Enhances your mood so you feel better about yourself and your health
- Improves your ability to be a better spouse, friend, or co-worker as your mood-elevating endorphins get a boost
- Reduces stress
- Improves your chances for an extended quality of life by helping you stay mobile, maintain your balance, and improve your flexibility to help you remain independent.
Did you know that regular activity has been correlated to extended life expectancy? According to research*, you’ll get an extra 1.8 years from 75 minutes of brisk walking per week, 3.4 additional years from 150 to 299 minutes of brisk walking per week, an extra 4.5 years from 450 minutes, as well as an eye-popping 7.2 years by maintaining a healthy weight.
But if activity is so beneficial and physicians routinely recommend it to their patients for weight loss and lower cholesterol, then why aren’t more people moving it? According to some experts, the obvious benefits of activity often take months to become apparent. This runs counter to our instant-gratification society that wants immediate payoff for hard work and exercise.
The rule of thumb to follow is at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. Ready to get moving? Here are some tips for getting active in 2015:
- Start with walking and walk every day.
- Have a dog? Walk your dog 15 minutes, twice a day.
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator.
- Participate in an exercise-related activity you enjoy such as dance, yoga, or sports.
- Even gardening, cleaning house, and doing yard work count toward your activity!
To round out your resolutions for a healthier 2015, use the other building blocks:
- Nutrition keeps your engine moving, so you have to supply it with the right kind of fuel. Keep it simple. Eat things that have fewer than four ingredients. Buy items on the perimeter of the grocery store such as fresh vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Most moderate exercise burns about 10 calories per minute, so if you walk for 30 minutes, you’ll only burn 300 calories. Remember that activity should not be viewed as license to increase your normal caloric intake.
- Rest. Getting plenty of rest — seven to eight hours per night — to help you deal better with stressful situations and stay more mentally alert.
- Hydration. Water is a major component of our bodies. Drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day keeps us in balance. Having a glass of water before eating also tames hunger.
Finally, give up the guilt. It’s the primary barrier that keeps us from reaching our well-being goals. Focus on what you do well and what you’ve achieved. Dwelling on an indulgence or skipped workout won’t help you achieve your goals. Put things in perspective and take every opportunity to celebrate.
If you’re ready to get moving and achieve your career goals, it’s time to choose Methodist Health System. Learn more by visiting Jobs.MethodistHealthSystem.org.
© Methodist Health System
*Source: Research collaboration between the U.S.-based Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the National Cancer Institute quantified how much longer people can live depending on the levels of exercise they engage in.