Make Your Move in the New Year
Start the New Year out on the right foot by making a commitment to get some regular physical activity. Whether you're involved in sports, live an active lifestyle or just enjoy walking the dog, physical activity pays big dividends.
Physical activity is the "right move" for almost everyone, not just for athletes. Consider just a few reasons why:
- Trimmer body. If you're physically active, you'll have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight, or losing weight and keeping it off if you're overweight.
- Less risk for health problems. An active lifestyle can help protect you from many ongoing health problems. Studies show that regular physical activity lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels while boosting HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It also controls blood pressure and improves blood sugar levels. Risks for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer also go down when you include physical activity in your daily living. Active living also may reduce or eliminate the need for medication to lower blood lipids, lower blood pressure or manage diabetes.
- Stronger bones. Regular, weight-bearing activities such as walking, running, weight lifting, cross-country skiing and soccer help make your bones stronger. If you're past age 35, weight-bearing exercise helps maintain your bone strength and reduce your chance of fractures.
- Stronger muscles. Strength-training activities such as lifting weights at least two times a week keep your body strong for sports and everyday living. When you're strong, it's easier to move, carry and lift things. When you exercise your muscles, you also give your heart a workout. Remember, it's a muscle, too. A strong heart pumps blood and nutrients more easily through your 60,000 miles of blood vessels.
- More endurance. You won't tire as easily when you're physically active. And you may have more stamina during the rest of the day, too.
- Better mental outlook. Active people describe feelings of psychological well-being and self-esteem when they make active living a habit. It's a great way to reinforce that "can do" attitude.
- Stress relief and better sleep. Research shows that physical activity helps your body relax and release emotional tension. That promotes longer, better-quality sleep, and you may fall asleep faster.
- Better coordination and flexibility. Your body moves with greater ease and range of motion when you stay physically active.
- Injury protection. When you're in shape, you can catch yourself more easily if you slip or tripÉand can move away from impending danger more quickly.
- Feel younger longer. Research suggests that physical activity slows some effects of aging. Active people have more strength and mobility and fewer limitations.