Get active and stay healthy

Between work, school, and family obligations, people from all walks of life find it difficult to get enough exercise. But research shows that physical activity can help you live longer, feel better, and improve your overall health and fitness.

Physical activity builds muscle strength and endurance which can improve your ability to complete the tasks of daily living — climbing stairs, getting up from chairs — and help prevent injuries. It can also help you think more clearly.

But most importantly, physical activity can play a role in preventing many diseases, including heart disease, stroke, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and depression. It also can help reduce high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and other risk factors for disease.

Some physical activity, no matter how much, is better than none. The goal is to get at least 2½ hours of physical activity every week. So what exactly is physical activity? There are two types of activities that benefit your health: aerobic and muscle-strengthening.

Aerobic activities — also called endurance activities — are those in which you move your large muscles rhythmically for a long time. With moderate-intensity aerobic activities, you can talk while you do them, but not sing. Examples include walking briskly, water aerobics, ballroom or line dancing, general gardening, or sports where you catch and throw.

With vigorous-intensity aerobic activities, you can only say a few words before pausing to catch your breath. These include jogging, swimming laps, aerobic dancing, sports with a lot of running, and heavy gardening such as continuous digging or hoeing.

Muscle-strengthening happens when your muscles do more work than they are used to. Activities that strengthen muscles include heavy gardening, lifting weights, push-ups on the floor or against the wall, sit-ups, and working with resistance bands (long, wide rubber strips that stretch).

Here are some tips for getting active:

  • Team up with a friend to keep you motivated — and it’s more fun than going solo.
  • Pick activities that you like to do.
  • Join a fitness group.
  • Track your time and progress — it helps you stay on course.
  • Talk to your health care provider about good activities to try.
  • Don’t forget muscle-strengthening activities for additional health benefits.

Brent Campbell, D.O., specializes in Family Medicine and sees patients at UT Erlanger Primary Care Hixson. For more information or to schedule an appointment with a specialist, please call 423-778-2564.