It’s time for Americans to spring clean their health routines. A large-scale study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows inactivity can be worse for you than smoking, diabetes or having heart disease.
Matt Janus, an OSF HealthCare exercise physiologist, says making recommended activity a priority can impact a person’s overall wellbeing in myriad ways.
“The 150 minutes of movement a week that the American Heart Association recommends – that goes leaps and bounds toward reducing things like your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, pretty much anything and everything,” Janus said.
Despite that, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says only 23% of Americans get enough exercise. The American Heart Association encourages people to take part in more physical activity on a regular basis to get the health benefits of exercise.
For some people, starting and maintaining an exercise routine is a tall order. Janus says any additional movement is better than nothing, and he recommends setting a main goal – like starting a consistent exercise routine or losing weight – then setting small, obtainable goals that don’t seem so daunting and overwhelming.
Small daily goals could include adding five more minutes of activity every day, or replacing a usual junk food snack with a fruit or a vegetable. “Just making those small changes over time can add up to your big overall goal,” Janus said.
Fitness, activity doesn’t have to mean time in the gym. Gardening, walking the dog, or even living room dance parties all count as movement minutes. Finding an enjoyable activity helps keep people motivated to continue exercising.
“If you’re doing something that you absolutely hate, and forcing yourself to do it, it’s going to be a lot harder to adhere to that routine. So find what you enjoy that gets your body moving and stick with that, and it’ll set you up for success,” Janus said.
Janus added that there are resources that can help people start and maintain a fitness routine. Your primary care physician should be the first step in setting specific goals, especially for those who have pre-existing health conditions.
And remember, slip-ups will happen. It’s never too late to start again.
Not sure where to start? To find a provider from OSF HealthCare Little Company of Mary Medical Center to help you get on the path to activity and wellness, go to osfhealthcare.org. OSF HealthCare Little Company of Mary Medical Center is presenting sponsor of BAPA’s Ridge Run.