It’s safe to say most Americans have plenty of access to resources about how to live a healthy, active life, but unfortunately, too few of us are taking this readily available advice. We have become a largely sedentary society; we just don’t move enough.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only one in three children is active every day and less than five percent of the adult population get 30 minutes of daily physical activity. Only one-third of American adults meet the recommendation for physical activity each week, but there is a bit of good news for older adults.
It seems retirees have more time on their hands and are using it more wisely as they age. While only 28 to 34 percent of adults ages 65 to 74 are physically active, adults over the age of 75 report being active at a rate of between 35 and 44 percent.
Logan Collins, fitness center coordinator at Texas Health Prosper, says sometimes even small changes can make a big impact.
“I have personally seen a number of people end up coming off all blood pressure, cholesterol and type 2 diabetes medicine for good within a year of adopting healthier lifestyle habits,” he reports. “This type of scenario cannot be the expected outcome for everyone seeking to adopt healthier lifestyle habits. However, I can guarantee that the simple addition of walking 15 to 20 minutes a few times per week can have an incredible impact on a person’s health.”
Some adults may assume that after spending way too much sedentary time over the years, it’s too late to do anything about the damage that’s been done to their bodies. According to a recently published study in the medical journal Circulation, adults can in fact reverse cardiac damage through regular exercise. In the study, researchers found that adults who completed two years of exercise training saw improved fitness and decreased cardiac stiffness, a result of sedentary aging.
Collins says he’s seen first-hand the changes a person can make to their health if they exercise and eat right.
“It’s never too late to make changes and to adopt a healthy lifestyle,” he says. “When I was still a personal trainer at Texas Health Burleson, I had one client in particular that was a perfect example of this. When we first met, she didn’t have much experience in the gym and was on medication to manage her blood pressure, cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.
“After improving her eating and exercise habits, she managed to lose 100 pounds and successfully come off all her medication, with her yearly physical showing her blood work to be better than some of the healthiest people out there.”
Physicians report that regular physical activity is one of the most important things adults can do to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Experts recommend 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week and up to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity for those looking to manage weight. In addition to improving heart health, other benefits to regular activity include reduced risk of high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, some cancers and other serious health issues.
Moderate activity includes the following activities:
- Walking (3.5 mph)
- Bicycling (less than 10 mph)
- Light gardening/yard work
- Golf (walking and carrying clubs)
- Light weight lifting
Additionally, the following activities are considered vigorous:
- Running/jogging/walking (4.5+ mph)
- Bicycling (10+ mph)
- Heavy yard work
- Vigorous weight lifting
If you’re ready to turn the tide of your health and jump-start a healthier lifestyle, Collins has a few practical recommendations.
“If you’ve never really exercised before, I strongly suggest consulting with a personal trainer to ensure you have a plan in place and minimize the chance of injuring yourself,” he explains. “Aside from that, my best bit of advice for those looking to adopt a healthy lifestyle is patience. It took a while for your health to get where it is, and it will take a while to mend it. Don’t be afraid of failure because we all make mistakes and they are great learning opportunities. If you mess up along the way, it’s just a bump in the road so don’t let it completely derail you.
“Jump in with both feet! The hardest part about making a life-changing decision to adopt healthy habits is getting started. Once you get into a routine, it becomes a part of everyday life. You should always schedule your life around your health, not your health around your life!”
This article was provided by https://areyouawellbeing.texashealth.org, an informational blog from Texas Health Resources that provides insights about the mind, body, and spirit.