Thirty minutes of daily physical activity should top your list of New Year's resolutions for 2010, says Peter Brubaker, professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University. Regular daily exercise is the most important step toward a healthier lifestyle, Brubaker says.
“People don’t realize you can get tremendous benefit from regular physical activity even if you never lose a pound,” he said in a statement. The benefits of increased physical activity include reduced risks for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, bone and joint conditions, and sleep apnea.
Brubaker, who is the director of the healthy exercise and lifestyle programs (HELPS) at Wake Forest, offers several tips on ways to increase daily physical activity:
• Set a goal of 30 minutes a day of physical activity. It doesn’t need to be all at once. Five minutes here, 10 minutes there is fine. As long as it is done at moderate intensity, you will get sufficient health benefits.
• Walk. For most people, the easiest and most efficient activity is simply walking.
• Wear a pedometer. Studies show that people wearing pedometers increase their activity level by 25 percent.
• Build activity into your daily routine and find small ways to get moving. Get up from your desk to deliver a message. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Add extra steps when you are doing household chores.
• Record your daily physical activity in a journal. Keeping track of your activity levels can be good reinforcement.
• Don’t obsess over weight loss. If you are active, you will get significant health benefits even if you never lose a pound.
People serious about weight loss should build in 60 minutes per day of physical activity.
• Find activities you enjoy and feel good about doing. Try a variety of activities. Variety is good for the body—and the mind.
• Get the support of friends and family. Challenge them to add 30 minutes of physical activity to their daily routine and you can hold each other accountable.
• Set realistic expectations. People are unrealistic about what they can achieve and how quickly they can achieve it. Don't become discouraged---just continue to exercise regularly.
Exercise will benefit your life in many ways. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise improves your mind, combats stress, helps manage your weight, boosts your energy level, promotes better sleep, and enhances your sex life.