You may be exercising and not even know it. Running around, walking down the hall or playing hoops, dancing and yoga all count as exercise. Keeping active and moving is good for your body. Your body needs your help, so let’s get moving!
Are you a couch potato?
Being active is not only good for your body but also for your heart and joints. Keeping active helps prevent “sitting disease.” Yes, sitting disease is real and it is no joke! Sitting disease happens when you spend more time sitting down either on the computer, watching television, or looking at mobile devices.
Here is what happens: When you sit for a prolonged period of time, your body goes into “sleep” mode. When the body goes into “sleep” mode, our metabolism slows down. When the body goes to prolonged states of “sleep” mode, the body becomes at risk for obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
It doesn’t take much to prevent sitting disease. Any movement, even leisurely movement, is better than none. Try this to prevent sitting disease:
- Stand during commercials when watching TV
- Pace or walk in place when watching YouTube videos
- Do squats or raise up and down on your toes when talking on the phone
- Stand up, walk to the kitchen and drink a cup of water every hour when studying. Set a timer on your phone to remind you!
- Ask you parent to park further away from the store when going shopping so that the walk to and from the car is a little bit longer.
Read more about sitting disease, otherwise known as the couch potato syndrome at https://www.washington.edu/wholeu/2018/08/13/sitting-disease/.
When do you have time to exercise?
If you are worried about finding time to exercise, there are many ways of incorporating activity in your daily schedule.
- Walk to school, the mall or work instead of taking the bus or getting a ride
- Ride a bicycle to the grocery store, your bus stop or to your job
- Include a walk in the park as part of your date
- Do sit-ups or push-ups during the commercials on TV
- Walk or jog laps at your school track or at the local mall
Remember, any movement counts!
Being active does not have to be about exercising only in the gym, during gym class or even a specific routine. It can be about doing something fun that you enjoy. It can be as simple as doing jumping jacks, racing up and down the stairs, jogging in place or even dancing. Mix it up and make it work for you. You can start by:
In the morning:
- Wake up 10 minutes earlier than you usually do and do some deep stretching before you begin your day.
- Walk the long way to the bus stop
- Walk the dog before school
- If you drive yourself to school, park your car in the furthest (safe) parking spot so that you get some extra walking in
- Walk the long way to your class instead of arriving early and sitting longer
- Participate in PE. Use the time in class to get some exercise!
- Walk during lunch break instead of sitting and talking after you are done eating
- Sign up for a school sport! There are lots of sports to choose from, and it’s a myth that you have to be a pro to make a team by the time you’re in high school. There are lots of sports teams looking for beginners to participate too.
- Walk the dog (again!), or go for a walk with a sibling or a friend. Walking is excellent exercise and exploring can be fun!
- Go swimming! Just paddling around in a swimming pool is excellent aerobic exercise, and its fun too.
- Sign up for a rec league or intramural sport just for fun. Dodge ball, flag football, even freeze tag! Are all great sports and games, and you don’t have to be a star athlete to play. Recreational leagues are full of people that just want to have fun and get some exercise.
- Mow the lawn. Huh? That’s right, mowing the lawn or even vacuuming inside the house is good exercise and will score you bonus points for doing chores too!
- When the weather is nice, go out and canoe or kayak or hike.
For more ideas, check this health.gov resource out on how to get started:
Plan for success
There are so many different ways to get up and get moving it can be hard to choose.
The local “Y” offers memberships to military families and personnel though the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Military Outreach program.
Visit the Boys and Girls Club and find out what activities they offer.
If you live on military base, find out if they have a skate park, or even a bowling alley.
With so many different ways to exercise it can be hard to choose. Making a plan can help take the guess work out of figuring out what to do each day, and keep you on track toward meeting your health goals. There are lots of resources out there to help get you started and keep you moving. Try this online Activity Planner from health.gov to make a plan and stay on track: https://health.gov/moveyourway/widget/
Healthy heart = a happy heart
The heart is a small muscle in your chest that is the size of a fist. It pumps blood all over the body so the body has enough oxygen and nutrients to function properly. It is important to exercise your heart just like you would exercise any other muscle in your body. Exercises that increase your heart rate and strengthen your lungs are called aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercises pump blood from your heart at a faster rate and expand your lungs to more effectively move oxygen. When your heart and lungs are working harder during aerobic exercise, they are getting stronger just like doing sit ups to build your abdominal muscles. If your doctor says it’s OK, you should exercise at least 60 minutes a day to keep your heart healthy. Some different types of aerobic exercises are skating, bicycling, swimming, basketball, hiking, and running.