🏊♀️ 15 Practical Ways to Get More Physically Active and Why It’s So Important
Less than a century ago, physical activity was naturally part of daily life. People walked to destinations and took care of home and work activities without modern conveniences. In our contemporary lives, this is no longer true. In today’s world, how can we build more movement into our days – even if only increasing a few more steps each day?
What is physical activity? Consider expanding your understanding of physical activity. Sometimes a simple reframe is the beginning of change – toward physical activity and away from the “e word” – exercise – if that word turns you off.
Even if you see yourself as a “couch potato,” virtually all of us do some physical activity in our lives – simply walking from the TV to the refrigerator or going out the front door to discard the trash involves movement.
Physical activity is any movement of the skeletal muscles in the body resulting in expending energy (Langhammer & colleagues, 2018). This includes even ordinary activities of daily life, work, leisure, or moving oneself from place to place. Structured planned exercise is only one component of physical activity.
What are some benefits of regular physical activity? Did you know that regular physical activity can help you improve your mood, raise your energy level, and live longer (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 2021; Mayo Clinic, 2019)?
According to Mayo Clinic and the CDC, these are some of the benefits of regular exercise:
- Helps prevent weight gain and regulate weight.
- Helps promote health and manage many health issues, including high blood pressure, anxiety, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, depression.
- Helps foster sleep, such as getting to sleep more quickly and sleeping more deeply. (Remember, exercising near bedtime can negatively impact sleep.)
- Bolsters energy levels, muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance.
- Can be an enjoyable, even fun, way to connect with others. Choose an activity you enjoy and consider involving a friend or family member – hike, bike, walk, dance, yoga, qi gong, softball, swim, pickleball.
🧘 How Do Physical Activity and Flourishing Fit Together?
We humans are composed of mind, body, and spirit. Our bodies are fundamental to how we feel, think, and behave.
Decades of research in positive psychology help us understand that living with greater flourishing and well-being also involves physical activity. Faulkner & colleagues (2015) discuss physical activity as “positive psychology in motion.” This shift supports physical and mental health, inspiring people to develop more active lifestyles. Physical activity can help us strengthen and maintain physical and emotional health, positive emotions, greater meaning, and resilience as we face challenges and adversities in our lives.
How important is physical activity at midlife and beyond?
“Physical activity is one of the most important things people can do to improve their health. Moving more and sitting less have tremendous benefits for everyone regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, or current fitness level.”
– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2019
For those of us at midlife and beyond, although physical activity may not come as naturally as it used to, we need to get out of our chairs! Evidence is clear that positive lifestyle and physical activity can promote a healthier life, delay the changes of aging, and lengthen life expectancy (Langhammer & Colleagues, 2018; Harvard Medical School, 2014).
Remember to check in with your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise program if you have any concerns about your health, fitness, haven’t seen a healthcare provider in a while, or haven’t exercised in a while.
Simply moving more during the day can be a valuable strategy to shift from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one. If you can get to the gym that’s great, but according to many experts (Mayo Clinic, 2019), just being more active – moving more – is much better than being sedentary.
🚶♀️ Here are 15 practical strategies to add more movement into your days:
- Stretch for a moment or a few when you wake up in the morning.
- Stand instead of sitting.
- Have meetings while walking.
- Walk a longer path at the store to get the items you want.
- Take brief movement breaks throughout the day – maybe every 30 minutes or hourly.
- Park farther away from your destination, adding more steps.
- Stand and stretch when working at your computer or desk.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator when safe and feasible.
- Activate household tasks with greater vigor and movement.
- Walk around while talking on the phone.
- March in place while watching TV.
- Take the longer route to the kitchen, restroom, etc.
- At the office, walk over to talk to someone rather than emailing.
- Instead of meeting a friend or co-worker for coffee, take a walk together.
- Dance when you can.
💡 For exercise recommendations according to the CDC (2021), check out this handy reference!
What can you do to add more physical activity into your day?
What’s your next step toward change?
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. No content is a substitute for consulting with a qualified healthcare professional.
Send your comments and suggestions to Ilene!
Click here to send Ilene an email with your thoughts about this blog post.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (rev. July 29, 2021). Physical activity for different groups.
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2014). Exercise and aging: Can you walk away from Father Time?
- Langhammer, B., Bergland, A., & Rydwik, E. (2018). The importance of physical activity exercise among older people.
- Mayo Clinic (May 11, 2019). Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity.
Copyright © 2021 Ilene Berns-Zare, LLC, All Rights Reserved
Ilene is a Featured Author on PsychologyToday!
Read her blog series Flourish and Thrive: Navigating transitions with mindfulness and resilience.
How do you incorporate movement into your day?
Tap into your strengths, purpose, and potential to flourish in life and work.
If you’d like to discuss how Ilene Berns-Zare Coaching can help you achieve your goals, Contact Ilene.
Coaching with Ilene Can Help You Call Yourself to Action
Ilene Berns-Zare, PsyD, PCC, CMC (ICF Credentialed) is an Executive and Personal Coach and Speaker. Ilene helps people live their best personal and professional lives by bringing mind, body, and spirit into flow with strengths, purpose, and potential. She inspires clients to find fresh perspectives and access their full potential as creative, resourceful, whole persons. Find Ilene online, set up a free discovery coaching consultation, and access free resources at https://ibzcoaching.com/.
Please share this blog with anyone who might be interested in reading it!
We would love to hear from you! We are interested in your suggestions for this newsletter, your reactions to this one, or providing more information about coaching.