Before spending a fortune on gym memberships, fitness programs, or a wardrobe full of spandex, stop!
You don’t have to dramatically change your life or spend a ridiculous amount of money to become more active – you just need to start moving.
For some, choosing to live a more active lifestyle can be a significant change and quite frankly, a little intimidating. “Being active” looks different for everyone, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
What Does “Be More Active” Really Mean?
When it comes to your health, the word “active” simply means to move. According to the Mayo Clinic, moving more throughout your day will improve your health, mood, and can add years to your life!
Being more active is deciding to take the stairs instead of the elevator, going for a walk instead of zoning out in front of the television, or taking up a new hobby that gets you out of the house. Regardless of your current fitness level, it doesn’t have to cost a dime or cause a major upheaval in how you live at all.
Make Better Choices During the Day
Whether it is parking farther away at the grocery store, doing 20-minutes of yoga on your lunch break, or going for a walk after dinner, increasing your daily movement can have significant health benefits.
With the help of smartphones and apps that track your activity, it’s easy (and often free or inexpensive) to monitor your healthy choices. Download one today and set a daily goal for yourself. Monitor the app closely to see if you reach your goals!
Make Being Active Fun
You might not love logging miles on a treadmill, but do you like to bust a move now and then? Dancing is a great cardiovascular exercise. Sign up for a formal class, or plan a date night out!
If you love the great outdoors, hiking can be a fun and challenging way to move that doesn’t feel like exercise at all. And, it can burn more than 500 calories in just one hour!
When was the last time you were on a bike? Nothing makes you feel more like a kid again than strapping on a helmet and going for a bike ride. It is easier on your joints than running or walking and gives you the opportunity to explore your neighborhood.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that living an active lifestyle means going to the gym every morning at 5 am. There are so many activities that can get you up and moving, just pick one you enjoy doing!
Take Care of Your Mind, Too
Being on the go all the time can be exhausting, physically and mentally. Likewise, not tuning out the noise and giving your mind time to breath can be just as bad.
First, make sleep a priority. You should be getting about eight hours of sleep a night in order to function at your best during the day. Finding it hard to fall asleep? Your issue may be blue light. Turn off the cell phone, television, tablet, or other devices an hour before bed. If this is difficult, work your way up from five minutes one night, ten minutes the next, and so on.
Plan at least 15 minutes a day to quiet your mind and refocus. This could be meditation or a relaxing activity like listening to music, writing, or yoga. Whatever you choose, make your daily down time a priority.
Not Sure Where to Start?
For those that want a more active lifestyle but are unsure where to begin, start by volunteering in your local community. Local not-for-profits are always looking for people to help, and partnering with them will keep you stay committed to your new, more active lifestyle.
For example, some non-profits need help with manual labor projects like building houses or constructing playgrounds. If that kind of work is too physically demanding for you, there are many other active opportunities to help like cleaning up local parks, caring for shelter animals, or delivering meals to homebound residents.
Offering your time and talent to help these organizations will not only boost your mood and help you feel more socially connected, but it will positively impact your health as well.
Studies have shown that people over 50 who volunteer on a regular basis are less likely to develop blood pressure problems, which decreases the chance of developing cardiovascular disease, having a stroke, or dying prematurely. Research also indicates that volunteering can help improve mental health conditions like anxiety disorders, depression, and PTSD.
It’s All About Making Good Choices
There’s more to active living than just exercising more, and for some, it starts with making a commitment to keep moving throughout your day. When you make your health a priority, you will live a more fulfilled life.