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Step It Up: Ways to be More Active

December 2021

Chris Zellers, MPP, FCHS Educator Cape May County, Rutgers Cooperative Extension

Being active is an important part of aging healthfully. The key to being physically active is finding something enjoyable to do that promotes motivation and encourages regular movement. Since Americans have become increasingly sedentary or lacking in movement, chronic disease rates have increased. Finding small ways to move more or regularly is important to keep our bodies functioning properly and to prevent disease. Physical activity is a great prevention tool for chronic disease, however, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) only 23% of Americans meet the recommendations of 150 minutes per week plus two days of weight bearing exercise. Think about the reasons you are not moving and find ways to exercise anyway. Many challenging reasons for poor physical activity levels can help you to prevent chronic disease while promoting a sense of well-being.

Are you too tired to exercise? Are you lacking funds and time to forego regular exercise habits? Instead, use these same reasons to promote energy, save money, and add time to daily routines. The grind of life each day, leaves many American’s feeling rundown and tired but physical activity will increase your energy levels and promotes that sense of well-being. Exercise has been associated with better sleep patterns, which in turn provides more energy during the day. Exercise doesn’t have to be expensive. By taking time to shop and compare gyms, being a good consumer, can save money up front. A gym is not a necessity but a safe place to walk and a pair of supportive walking shoes is all that is needed to get a daily workout where you live or on a lunch break at work. The costs associated with physical inactivity account for more than 11% of total health care expenditures and are estimated at $117 billion annually according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Finding the time to move maybe difficult and a hard debate in America but we are spending too much time on social media and smart phones that instead of physical activity. Making time to exercise each day will save money in the long run and decrease your risk for chronic disease. It will increase low energy levels and it’s an investment in your physical and mental health which will provide a lifetime of benefits.

If barriers are holding you back from exercising, try focusing on what you can do 30 minutes each day. Rather than avoiding exercise, take some time to be proud of how much was accomplished, no matter what the level. Everyone has a different level of physical fitness and various challenges from day to day. Often at gyms instructors are experienced in helping with modifications to accommodate needs, ask for assistance if you need some help. Do what is realistic for you. It's better to exercise for 10 minutes three times a day than do nothing at all, Finding ways around limitations will improve your overall wellbeing. Start small and remember to think about small steps for good health.