Increasing your activity levels is easier than you think

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We are bombarded with guidelines on keeping active every day to live a long, happy life. Even though it may seem overwhelming, your heart will thank you for being more active. Being efficient is good in many contexts, but we should always be in excess when it comes to love and movement in our daily lives.

We all know that it is essential to keep active. The tips and tricks are endless. Do 30 minutes' moderate activity every day, walk 10,000 steps throughout the day, take the stairs, not the lift, etc. But while we know it is vital to be active, it is just so difficult to get it done. If you drive to work every day and spend the whole time sitting motionless in front of a screen, you will need to put in extra effort to achieve those famed 10,000 steps a day. Depending on your stride length, this equals about 7–8 km every day - the equivalent of a decent run. As such, everyone cannot fit a run into our daily schedule after work, so what can we do? 

Your heart will thank you

We know that being inactive is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease. However, regular activity will not only reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, and raised blood pressure. It will also increase your energy levels, improve your concentration, the quality of your sleep, and reduce stress and anxiety.

Your heart will thank you! But also your body and mind for doing just a little more. So rather than focusing on everything you are not doing, praise yourself for the things you manage to fit into your day. Even those minor changes to increase your activity levels in your daily routines will have a beneficial, long-term effect.

Further reading: "Let's be active – More active people for a healthier world" (Source: WHO)

"I hate gyms and cannot find the time!"

There are quite a few reasons why you struggle to get started at the gym. It may seem overwhelming, and maybe you do not feel like going. However, physical activity does not need to be a physically straining activity. There are various action levels between the extremes outer points, and it does not have to be one or the other.

Be happy about all the little things you do for yourself, and remember that all those activities add up and contribute to your daily activity level.

“Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure.” – World Health Organization (WHO)

If you find it challenging to stay motivated, you might benefit from an activity tracker, which can help you keep track of all your various activities. Some people are motivated by setting a challenging goal and getting a reward when they achieve it. Others are motivated by achieving a lower-set daily goal that is more manageable to complete.

Figure out what drives you most and ensure that your activity tracker does precisely that. It will always beat the constant negative reminders that you are not doing enough,

 

Many small activities are better than a few prolonged activities

While you might sit in the office all day, while driving to work every day, small things can still make a significant difference. Getting up from your desk a couple of times throughout the day, choosing the toilet furthest away, or taking smaller cups of coffee for more frequent kitchen visits all adds up during the day.

It's all about getting those hidden activities into your daily routine, so you do not need to use mental energy to plan it – it all comes naturally.

And make no mistake. A walk brisk walk has benefits that go far beyond the count on your pedometer.

April is "Move More" Month, and the American Heart Association has gathered several resources to help you if you're lacking inspiration, such as creating a daily challenge.