April is “Move More Month,” and the American Health Association encourages all Americans to commit to being more active on a regular basis. One of the most important things you can do to improve your health is be physically active. Research shows being active can help boost your mood, improve your sleep, lower your risk of heart disease and some cancers, and help keep diabetes and high blood pressure under control. Focus on moving more in April by following these tips.
How Much Activity
In order to stay healthy, adults need a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. It is recommended to aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity that gets your heart beating faster and at least 2 days a week of muscle-strengthening activity that make your muscles work harder than usual.
Chronic health conditions may affect your ability to do regular physical activity safely. Always check with your doctor before starting a physical activity routine. Older adults can follow the guidelines for adults, but it is recommended to also add balance training and evaluate their level of effort based on their level of fitness.
Increase Activity Over Time
If you are just getting started, just remember some activity is better than none. Remember to start gradually and increase the amount and intensity of physical activity over time. Evaluate your age, level of fitness and level of experience to help reduce injury risk when increasing physical activity. The best way to get started is to focus on a light- to moderate-intensity activity, such as walking 5-15 minutes per session, 2-3 times a week. Research has shown walking to be a low risk of musculoskeletal injury and no known risk of sever cardiac events.
Enjoy the Outdoors
Now is the time to be more active by going outside and enjoying the warmer weather. Try to incorporate some of these activities:
- Walking to brisk walking
- Walking your dog
- Jogging or running
- Golfing (without a cart)
- Playing catch
- Parking farther away from the door
Think Outside the Box
Activities you have to do or don’t feel like exercise will count as long as you are moving. Some examples include:
- Gardening and weeding
- Mowing the lawn with a push mower
- Household chores such as vacuuming
- Home repairs
It is important to move more and sit less. Don’t stress about having to complete 30 minutes of activity at one time. All activity adds up and even 5 minutes of physical activity has health benefits. Build your weekly activity plan by using the Move Your Way Activity Planner at https://health.gov/moveyourway/Activity-Planner