Staying Healthy with Incidental Physical Activity
October 02, 2017
By Matt Wheet, Wellness Director at Westminster Village
Trying to start being active can be challenging. 24-hour gyms, home gyms, workout DVDs, and “As Seen on TV” gadgets — which do you choose? When do you start, and when do you fit it into your busy schedule? Incidental activity may be your answer.
Everyone knows that being physically active and exercising is good for your health. Regular exercise can give you energy, control your weight, and help to prevent strokes and heart attacks. It can be good for your mental health as well. Physical activity can also improve your quality of sleep and reduce anxiety and depression. The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity at least five days a week. That’s a total of 150 minutes of activity per week.
For some people, starting to exercise the “textbook way” can feel nearly impossible because of certain barriers. Some people may feel that they don’t have enough time or money, or they may find it inconvenient or lack confidence. Incidental activity is an inexpensive and easy way to start becoming more physically active. Incidental activity is defined as unstructured activity taken during the day. Some could also look at it as a way of adding more movement into your everyday routine.
Let’s say you have to go and get groceries. Most people will drive around the parking lot to find the closest spot. Try parking far away. By parking farther away, you will increase the amount of physical activity you are doing; it’s easy and convenient. Try carrying your groceries to the car instead of pushing them in a shopping cart. For people who use public transportation, you can get off a stop early and walk the rest of your way to your destination.
Phone calls, text messaging, and emailing have become common practice in the work place. Another way of trying to increase your physical activity is by limiting these forms of technology. You can get up out of your chair and actually go find the person you’re trying to communicate with at work. This will also give you an opportunity to take a short break while staying active and not staying glued to your chair. Another way to increase incidental physical activity at home is by cleaning. If you find yourself sitting and watching TV for too long, you can get up and dust, sweep, mop, or vacuum while you watch your favorite show.
Other ideas can include fitting physical activity into your social events. If you're making plans with a group of friends, try to avoid plans that involve sitting. Instead of going to a movie or a sit-down restaurant, try something that involves more movement, such as bowling, dancing, or mini-golf. Instead of driving to your activities, you could walk or bike.
Incidental exercise isn’t meant to take the place of regular, structured exercise. However, it’s a good place to start. If you have a hard time going to a gym or exercising most days of the week, then forgEt about a gym membership or a new exercise bike and just grab a broom and start moving.
Westminster Village, a continuing care retirement community, is dedicated to providing an environment for all retirement lifestyles, including independent living, licensed assisted living and skilled nursing care. For more information, please contact Westminster Village: 309-663-6474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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