Many years ago, Americans walked regularly throughout their day. Today, we are lucky if we can reach 3,000 steps in one day. As a country, we are not getting enough movement in our daily lives. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort to incorporate exercise into your schedule.
If all you can manage is a five-minute walk, do it. Five minutes are better than none. Eventually, you will be able to work your way up to 30 minutes or more, and you will be taking a big step toward maintaining the flexibility and mobility of your joints.
For those in a time crunch, consider taking small breaks from work. Simply getting up from your desk and walking around the office or the parking lot, or going up and down the stairs a few times, is enough to get your blood flowing and to trigger feel-good endorphins to get you through the rest of your day.
You can also think about incorporating exercise into the activities that you enjoy, such as shopping. Next time you take a trip to the mall, walk around the entire perimeter before going into a store. Or you can turn household chores and yard work into exercise. Consider washing your car by hand rather than using a drive-through car wash. Next time you have to mow the lawn, don’t groan and put it off. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to get in some exercise and work up a sweat. The same is true of raking leaves and vacuuming the living room—anything that gets you on your feet and moving around is going to be beneficial to your health.
What’s My Motivation?
With busy schedules and the rising cost of gym memberships, it’s easy to make excuses for not exercising. The important thing is to remember what motivated you to start working out in the first place. Do you want to be able to keep up with your grandkids? Play 18 holes of golf? Run a marathon one day? Avoid the diabetes that runs in your family? Wear a new outfit hanging in your closet? Whatever it is, keep your goal in mind to keep your body moving toward it.
If you already have a workout routine that you enjoy, think about how you can tweak that plan to get the greatest health benefit. Regardless of how you choose to exercise, experts agree that it is important to vary your routine at least every few weeks to avoid plateaus and see maximum results.
Variety can be as simple as changing the machines on your weight-lifting circuit or switching from a treadmill to an elliptical. If you’d prefer to continue with the same activity, such as running, consider altering how far or how fast you run. Switch from interval training to hill training, or from one-mile sprints to three-mile jogs.
New Exercise Options
Tired of running on a treadmill? Check out these exercise options to spice up your workout routine:
- Practice yoga. With a variety of styles and poses, yoga can fit into many different lifestyles and address a variety of health and fitness needs. The physical benefits of yoga, such as increased flexibility, strength, endurance and balance make it an excellent option for athletes to complement the often repetitive motions of training. The same benefits are valuable to less active people looking for a way to add more movement to their days.
- Diving in for a few laps is a great workout option because it provides cardio and resistance training without any added stress on your joints. You can also “run” in the water for even more variation. Either strap on a flotation device and hit the deep end for minimal resistance while running, or try the shallow end (with the water level hitting about mid thigh) for much stronger resistance.
- Do weight training. You can use free weights or grab those soup cans from the cupboard and fill an old gallon milk jug with water to create your own. Start small—with light weights and only a few repetitions—and work your way up to more sets with heavier weights.
- Go for a bike ride. Biking is good for your body because it provides a great cardio workout without putting extra stress on your joints. You can hit the trails for an outdoor ride or try a spin class at your local gym for a more structured workout.
- Take a dance class. Dance classes are fun, so you won’t realize you are exercising and you can make the workouts as high impact as you’d like.
No matter what workout you choose, be sure to talk to your doctor of chiropractic about exercising safely. For more information on health and wellness, or to find a chiropractor near you, visit www.HandsDownBetter.org.
Reviewed by the ACA Editorial Advisory Board.
The information in this post is for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for treatment or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have specific questions, contact your doctor of chiropractic. To find an ACA chiropractor near you, click here.