Most days it can feel like if we only had enough time, we could do a much better job at being healthy. Sound familiar? We’d have enough time for a proper breakfast; we’d have time to pack a healthy lunch and prepare a nourishing dinner; we’d carve out downtime for ourselves plus time to connect with friends and loved ones; and time for exercise. Yet we usually end up cutting corners for our well-being throughout the day, but still end up spending ever more hours in front of the computer and television out of exhaustion, lack of energy or seeking a way to connect.
Everything we do makes a difference, though, and even a small amount of exercise is no exception. A recent study shows that regular physical activity has important benefits for our blood sugar levels, whether we’re in good physical condition to begin with or currently living a sedentary lifestyle. With heart disease, Type-2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses on the rise for both women and men, it is becoming clear that this is the kind of information that deserves to get us off of the couch.
The upshot of the study, reviewed on a nytimes.com blog last week, is that it doesn’t take much to control our blood sugar levels with exercise - just 30 minutes over the course of a day, or around 10,000 steps per day. That is the amount of exercise that can easily be achieved by adding up the minutes from a lunch time or after-dinner walk around the neighborhood, riding a bike to work or to the store, walking the stairs at work instead of taking the elevator, or parking in a space farthest away from the store entrance.
So even though this study doesn’t grant us our wish of a lucky pill that will help us lose weight and get fit while catching up on Facebook or watching American Idol, it gives us an easy, doable and best of all - free! - way to make a significant impact on our health. With warmer temperatures and sunshine in the months to come, we’ve got the makings of some great motivation to get out there and get moving. Happy Spring!
Easy Ways to Get Moving
Get a pedometer (usually free from a managed health care provider) and wear it to track your steps
Work better with a goal? Set a goal, make it public, and use a fun way to track your progress
Ride your bike to work, the supermarket, or for errands
Play ball with your kids
Have a dance party in your living room
Walk to the park, walk to lunch instead of driving, and walk the dog
Pair up with a friend
Try something new: hula hooping, a dance class, or hill climbing in the parks
Find an exercise that you like to do - and do that (instead of doing the exercise that you really hate)
Ride the bus to work and walk home