Healthy Aging: Easy Ways To Increase Your Physical Activity
September is Healthy Aging Month and all month long we will be exploring ways you can Live Without Limits regardless of your age!
As we know, regular physical activity and exercise are one of the most important components of healthy aging. In our previous posts we examined the benefits of staying active as you age and how to make your “activity attack” plan. Now it’s time to actually get moving and look at easy ways you can increase your everyday physical activity.
Remember, that physical activity is not the same as exercise and includes everyday things like doing housework, working in the yard and walking the dog. Even regular moderate physical activity can produce long-term physical and mental health benefits and increasing your daily physical activity is easier than you might think.
The great thing about increasing your physical activity is that you don’t necessarily need to change or schedule or set aside a specific time each day to be active; and you don’t need to join a fitness club or pay for any special equipment – you can simply modify or work harder at the things you already do.
Check out these easy ways for you to increase your daily physical activity:
Doing household chores like sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, polishing and scrubbing are actually great ways to get your body moving. Rather than waiting to clean the house until it absolutely needs to be done or when you know company is coming over, make a point to do some house cleaning each day – your body and your house will love you for it!
- Wash and dry dishes by hand rather than using the dishwasher. This is a great way to keep your hands and fingers moving and improves dexterity.
- Use a wax polish in a tin rather than a spray when you polish your furniture. You will need to rub harder putting your arms and hands to work.
- When you sweep or vacuum use steady, rhythmic motions and a more vigorous pace. This will help improve strength in your biceps and triceps as well as your chest, arm and shoulder muscles.
- When doing the laundry or ironing, keep the laundry basket on the floor so you have to bend and stretch to reach the clothes.
Working outside in the yard is not only good for your body it is also good for your mind. Being outside, getting fresh air and soaking up the sun’s rays is a great way to relieve stress and relax while working your muscle groups and burning calories.
- Use a push mower rather than a riding lawn mower. You can also bag the yard debris rather than using your lawn mower’s mulching feature. This will increase your heart rate and work the muscles in your legs, arms, shoulders and back.
- Rake the leaves rather than using a leaf blower. Make sure to change the movement and direction when you are raking so you work both arm muscles evenly.
- When pulling weeds or digging in the soil make sure to switch back and forth between hands so are utilizing both arms and hands evenly.
- If you use a wheelbarrow to haul yard debris, soil or mulch, take an extra loop around the yard or the house before you dump its contents.
Some people love to shop while others consider it to be just a necessity of life. Regardless of whether you love it or hate it – you are probably going to need to go shopping for something at some point so you might as well burn some calories while you are doing it.
- Park at the far end of the parking lot and walk briskly into the store or get off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way. If you are going to a store in the mall, park at the opposite end of the mall from the store you want to visit and walk the entire length of the mall.
- Walk through each aisle of the store. Walk more quickly through the aisles that you don’t need to buy anything from to get your heart rate up.
- When you unload your groceries lift the milk carton or some canned food a few times before you put it away to increase your arm strength.
- Rather than just finding an open spot to place items you have bought, take the time to do a little reorganizing. Moving items out and putting them back into cabinets, cupboards or your refrigerator is a great way to get your body moving.
Use Your Feet
Walking, climbing and bicycling are some of the best ways to increase your daily physical activity as they strengthen your muscles and help improve flexibility, balance and endurance. The more you can use your feet the better – the trick is to identify as many opportunities as you can to get your feet moving!
- Think about the errands you typically run during the week. Could you run any of these errands on foot or by bicycle rather than taking your car or the bus?
- Always try to take the stairs rather than the elevator. When you do take stairs, even if they are just the stairs at your house, take a few extra tips up and down the steps to build up your leg strength and endurance.
- Instead of calling or emailing your neighbor, walk to down to their house for a visit.
- Instead of sitting down after lunch and watching television, take a walk or ride a bike around the neighborhood or the local park. Take your pet with you or ask a neighbor, friend or family member to join you.
- If you already incorporate a lot of walking into your daily physical activity routine, try walking longer, farther or faster than you normally do.
*Remember to always consult with your doctor before starting any new physical activity or exercise routine.
As you can see, increasing your daily physical activity doesn’t have to require a huge change in your schedule or spending a ton of money – it simply requires a little forethought and motivation.
Check back on our Limitless Living Blog for our next post for Healthy Aging Month as we explore ways to safely incorporate exercise into your activity attack plan!