Summertime Provides Opportunities to Get and Stay Active
Physical activity is one of the single most important things you can do for your health. And now that summer is here, there’s even more opportunity to get moving and stay active. Hiking, bicycling, swimming, kayaking, and just walking around the neighborhood all provide great exercise, which can keep you performing at your peak.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular exercise can help:
- Reduce your risk of numerous diseases, including some cancers
- Strengthen your bones and muscles, reducing your risk of injury
- Improve your mental health
Exercise has also been shown to keep the brain healthy, which can improve job performance. According to the Harvard Business Review, regular exercise can:
- Improve your memory and concentration
- Help you learn more quickly
- Provide prolonged mental stamina
- Enhance creativity
- Lower stress
So, how much exercise do you need to reap these benefits? According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), adults should get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week, with greater amounts of activity providing greater benefit. HHS also recommends strength training for all major muscle groups at least two times week.
But maybe, even with the nice weather, you still have challenges is getting motivated to engage in physical activity. Here are some tips to make it easier.
Get a “workout buddy”
Exercising with someone not only gives you an opportunity to add a social element to your workout, it increases your chances of maintaining a regular routine. A study at Indiana University found that married couples who worked out together had a much lower dropout rate than couples who worked out separately (6.3% to 43%). This could be as simple as walking with your spouse or neighbor every morning.
Get a dog
A dog is a great workout buddy. First, they need to be walked, so you have a constant source of motivation. Numerous studies show that dog owners are healthier than non-owners and the benefits extend beyond physical health. In study conducted by psychologists at Miami University and St. Louis University, researchers discovered that pet ownership led to better overall health and well-being.
Set a goal
If you walk in the mornings, set a goal to walk to the park and back or three laps around the lake. Having a specific goal will help you keep focused and make you less likely to become distracted by all the temptations that will try to keep you from keeping your commitment.
Use technology to track progress
Research has shown that people walked almost twice as much when they tracked their daily progress. You can use a smartphone app, FitBit tracker, or a pedometer. All these devices allow people to check their progress and actually having something recording your level of activity seems to be enough of a motivator for people to get moving.
Put exercise on your daily to-do list and schedule a specific time for it. Most people do best by having a regular time each day – often first thing in the morning. Having a regular routine helps many stick to their commitment easier.
Add in some fun
Look for activities for which you already have an interest in doing – such as gardening, dancing, or golf. It’s much easier to get motivated for something you actually enjoy doing! If your main activity is walking, change your route to include new sights and sounds to keep you interested.