“Just achieving the recommended levels of physical activity (equivalent to 30 minutes daily of moderate intensity activity on 5 days a week) reduces the risk of death by 19% … while 7 hours per week of moderate activity (compared with no activity) reduces the risk of death by 24%”. Study findings from the International Journal of Epidemiology.
That sounds like as a good a reason as any to get moving and get active; ‘Active Living’ is the way to do it. It’s a very basic concept that can have numerous positive wellbeing effects, including the aforementioned reduced risk of death. Even better -anyone can participate regardless of age, ethnicity or economic situation! Active Living is the idea that a person should integrate at least 30 minutes of physical activity into their everyday life. The activity you choose isn’t as importance as just getting moving and feeling good doing it!
It’s the unfortunate reality that in this day and age physical inactivity and obesity are at an all-time high and still increasing. A 2011 study found that 69% of adults in Canada are not meeting the recommended daily amount of physical activity. Thankfully, many studies have found that physical activity can drastically improve your livelihood. One study found that “33% of all deaths related to coronary heart disease, 25% of deaths related to stroke, 20% of deaths related to type 2 diabetes, and 20% of deaths related to hypertension could be avoided,” by engaging in daily physical activity. Something as simple as injecting a moderate amount of activity into your day can improve your health and decrease your chances of suffering from a number of serious ailments. So, what are you waiting for?!
Looking for an enjoyable way to accumulate your 30 minutes? The Active Living Coalition for Older Adults website lists a number of low impact activities to help you meet (or exceed!) the recommended amount of physical activity. Swimming, stretching/yoga and tai chi are moderate forms of exercise that are easy on the joints and can be done at any pace that feels right for you.
Wheelchair or walker-bound? Not a problem! There are still plenty of ways for you to add physical exercise to your routine. I quick Internet search for “Chair Exercises,” or “Limited Mobility Fitness” will bring up numerous resources and step-by-step guides to help get you moving.
For example, many people with mobility issues find it easier to exercise in water. Aqua aerobic classes, specifically for seniors, are offered at many community centres and gyms. Some pools have pool lifts or aquatic wheelchairs that can allow people those with limited mobility to get in on the fun!
Another option is doing an isometric (creating tension with contraction) motion, like a simple air punch or bicep curl, with or without light weights. These are great for subtly strengthening or maintaining muscle, and don’t put a lot of stress the heart. There are many exercises that target the upper body without leaving a seated position. If you have assistance, there are plenty of stretches and easy movements that can be done to benefit the lower body. The Internet is a great resource for these, too.
Still not convinced that adding activity to your day will make a difference in how you feel? Well, you have more to gain than the physical health benefits from increased activity, social and mental wellbeing get a boost, too! The World Health Organization found that “taking part in physical activity increases opportunities for socialization, networking and cultural identity.”
Activities like walking, going to a meditation class or gardening club will introduce you to new people and influences. Socializing and communication has proven positive effects on wellness and general outlook on life. Keeping Connected can help you stay engaged with scheduled calls and provides the aspect of socializing that’s so beneficial. It’s also a great way to stay motivated and accountable as you incorporate more activity into your life!
Having a hard time squeezing in 30 minutes? Break this total amount down into more manageable 10-minute blocks over the course of the day. For example, you could do some at-home exercises for 10 minutes upon waking, and take a 10-minute walk after lunch and dinner (bonus – this aids digestion). As the saying goes, “every little bit counts.”
There are other facets to Active Living that you can incorporate to see a fundamental improvement in how you feel. Nutrition (healthful eating) and mental fitness (exercise for the brain) holistically expand upon the concept for a more healthy, balanced life, and are just as important as physical exercise.
Don’t rush. If you are unaccustomed to moving around, or if the additional time seems challenging remember that no one is putting a deadline on getting active. This is a time for you and should be enjoyable. Ease yourself into any new activities and really listen to your body. If you’re tired – rest and continue the activity later, or pick up the next day. Don’t ignore your body’s signs and signals.
Being consistent is just as important! Any activity is good, but it’s better to be regular with your new active approach to live. A calendar, planner or friend can make this easy! Scheduling exercise makes you more likely to do it, as will your friend who’s eager to enjoy the time to chat!
Now that you know a little more about Active Living you can start incorporating into your life. Remember to start small, listen to your body and embrace activities that make you happy. Physical activity is so important to our bodies, as is eating well and making time for mind-stimulating activities, like engaging conversation.
Keeping Connected is passionate about an active approach to life. Let’s talk about your goals and how you can achieve them with fulfilling, friendly calls.