You’re busy. Between work, spending time with family and friends, and fulfilling all of your other commitments, you barely have enough time to get proper sleep , much less exercise. But you know you need to exercise. It’s good for both your mind and body, including your heart .
Need extra incentive? There is increasing evidence that living a sedentary lifestyle that involves sitting for long periods of time can increase your risk for mortality. A research study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found a direct relationship between time spent sitting and your risk of early mortality of any cause, and found that as your total sitting time increases, so does your risk of an early death.
So, how do you find time in your day to get in those steps, or reps or laps? Here are a few ways to incorporate physical activity into your already-busy day.
- Walk. It’s easy to do and requires nothing but a pair of walking shoes. Regular brisk walking helps lower your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and boosts your metabolism, which burns energy and calories.
- Take the stairs. Instead of searching for the elevator in the parking garage, take the stairs, just make sure to use the handrails, to prevent yourself from falling or tripping.
- Park a little further away. Especially in a crowded parking lot or garage, finding a parking spot can be challenging and time consuming. Why not take the easy route and find a more distant spot? It’s a great way to get a few extra steps in during your day. Always make sure you park in a well-lighted area, and if you’re alone, be extra vigilant of your surroundings.
- Get a pedometer or tracker (and use it). A great way to find out how many steps you’re getting a day is to wear a tracking device that keeps track of your steps. Once you learn how many steps you’re currently getting in a day, make a goal of adding 1,000 more each day, until you reach 10,000 steps a day. And why stop there?
- Squeeze in short walks. If you work at a desk all day, get up and move, at least once an hour, ideally every 30 minutes. Walk around your office, or on a nice, day, step outside for a short walk a couple of times a day. All those steps do add up!
- Multi-task. Instead of watching TV from your sofa, invest in a secondhand stationary bike or treadmill and watch while you spin or step.
- Book it. Getting regular exercise is probably more important than many of the activities you already have on your calendar. Respect yourself and put exercise on your calendar alongside those other events, and stay firm on those dates!
- Make exercise dates. Instead of meeting a friend for a beer or wine, how about meeting in the park for a walk? It’s a great way to get to know a new friend, or to strengthen your bond with an existing one. And it’s good for your heart!
- Get a dog. Make a daily exercise walking date with your best friend! There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that owning a dog may improve your heart health, decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, lower your blood pressure and lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. No wonder a dog is man’s best friend!
- Take a pre-dinner walk. Not a morning person? No problem. Instead of watching one episode of your favorite serial, take a 30-minute walk in your neighborhood and burn 150 calories or more, depending on your weight and walking speed. The show will still be there when you get back – promise!
The good news: It’s never too late to get moving. Being physically active is an important part of living a heart-healthy lifestyle. To learn more about how you can prevent heart disease, speak with a Memorial Hermann affiliated cardiologist by scheduling an appointment online or by calling (713) 222-2273.