If you are leading a sedentary lifestyle, you might notice the numbers on the scale creeping up and your energy levels dwindling. Engaging in regular physical activity, and encouraging your family to do the same, can set the stage for a long healthy life.
If you seldom engage in physical activity, you are leading a sedentary lifestyle. Being sedentary can increase your risk for health problems, including high blood pressure, obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, some forms of cancer and premature aging. In a study conducted on identical twins by Dr. Lynn F. Cherkas of King’s College London, the cells of the sedentary twin appeared 10 years older than the cells of the more active counterpart.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, you should accumulate at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week. You should also perform muscle-strengthening activities at least two days per week. If you do not meet this minimum, you are considered sedentary, but it is never too late to make a change. Start with a light or moderate intensity activity that you enjoy, such as walking, biking or gardening, and spread your activity throughout the week.
Children and adolescents need to perform moderate or vigorous intensity aerobic activity for at least one hour every day. Children should also participate in strengthening activities at least three days a week. The best way to get your kids moving is to set a good example. Incorporate physical activity into family time, and encourage children to participate in physical activities that they enjoy, such as team sports, martial arts, dance lessons or simple playground activities.
If you are sedentary and trying to add more activity to your life, start slowly. For example, begin with about 10 to 15 minutes of light aerobic activity, three to four days a week. Gradually increase the length and intensity each week until you reach the recommended level of activity. In addition to your aerobic activity, begin your muscle-strengthening program one day per week, and gradually increase to two or more days. Consult your physician before beginning an exercise regimen.