Saint Peter’s Better Health

Sponsored by Saint Peter’s Healthcare System

On average, adults in the U.S. spend about 6 hours sitting per day, according to a study in JAMA. All that chair time is taking its toll on our health. Too much time spent sitting increases the risk for weight gain, diabetes, cancer, and more.

And if we experience a lot of stress, the problem is even worse. Chronic stress is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and obesity. Resorting to unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking, or overeating to cope with stress can also put our well-being on the line.

A reason to move

A sedentary lifestyle combined with chronic stress is a recipe for illness. But we can do something about it. One of the best changes we can make is adding more physical activity to our life. Regular physical activity can:

  • Help us lose weight
  • Decrease the risk for heart disease and other health problems
  • Boost our moods
  • Help us live longer

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends clocking at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, each week. They also recommend doing muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups two or more days per week. That’s your target, but moving more yields even greater health benefits.

Making it count

Given a busy schedule, 150 minutes of activity per week may seem like a lot. But it’s more manageable than we may think. We can divide this time into shorter sessions. Whether it’s 30 minutes or five minutes, every little bit makes a difference. So, we can break up the workouts into smaller chunks throughout the day such as in the morning, during lunchtime, and after work. You may even be able to sneak in a quick workout at the desk.

It’s important to find activities to enjoy. This will make us more likely to stick with them. Any aerobic activity that raises the heart rate and makes us break a sweat counts. Some ideas for moderate-intensity activities include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Doing water aerobics
  • Riding a bike
  • Playing tennis
  • Dancing
  • Gardening and mowing the lawn

Sometimes, the hardest part is getting started. Once we make exercise a regular part of our lives, we’ll start feeling better. Inviting family, friends, or coworkers to join may help us look forward to it even more.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2021
© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.