We are bombarded with advice and rules on how much we should move every day if we are to have a long and good life. But even though it may all seem overwhelming to a paralysing degree, your heart will thank you for being more active. Being efficient is good in a lot of contexts, but when it comes to love and movement in our daily lives, we should be extravagant.
We all know that it’s important to keep moving. The tips and the rules are endless: you should do 30 minutes’ moderate activity every day, walk 10,000 steps throughout the day, take the stairs and not the lift, etc. But even though we know it’s important to be active, it’s just so difficult to get it done. If you go to work by car every day and then spend the whole time sitting motionless in front of a screen, you’ll need to put in extra effort to achieve those 10,000 steps per day. Depending on the length of your stride, this equals about 7–8 km every day, which is the equivalent of taking your dog on a long walk or going on a decent run. And not all of us have a dog or can fit a run into our daily schedule – so what can we do? And is it really worth trying when it seems so confusing?
Your heart will thank you
We know that inactivity is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease. However, regular activity won’t only reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity and raised blood pressure, but will also increase your energy levels, improve your concentration and the quality of your sleep, and reduce stress and anxiety. Not only your heart but the rest of your body and mind will also thank you for doing just a little more. So instead of focusing on everything you’re not doing, praise yourself for the things you actually do for yourself and your heart. Even making small changes to increase your activity levels in your daily routines will have a beneficial effect.
I hate gyms! I can’t bear sweating! I simply can’t find the time! I can’t afford it!
There can be a great many reasons why you struggle to get started: it may seem too overwhelming a task, and you may just never get going. But physical activity doesn’t need to mean physically straining activity: there are different levels of activity between the two extremes, and it doesn’t need to be one or the other. So be happy about the things you do for yourself, and remember that the many things you do throughout the day all contribute to your daily activity level.
“Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure.” – World Health Organization (WHO)
If you find it difficult to stay motivated, you might benefit from an activity tracker, which can help you keep track of all your various activities. Some people are motivated by setting a high goal for the day and getting a high reward when they achieve it, while others are motivated by achieving a lower daily goal every day. Discover what motivates you most and ensure that your activity tracker does exactly that, instead of being a constant reminder of the fact that you’re not moving enough.
Many small activities are better than a few prolonged activities
Even though you might sit in the office the whole day, and drive there and back in your car, small things such as getting up from your desk a couple of times throughout the day, choosing the toilet furthest away, or taking smaller cups of coffee or water so you have to go to the kitchen or water cooler twice as many times, make a big difference.
It’s all about “sneaking” activity into your daily routine, so you don’t need to expend mental energy on planning activities – they just naturally become part of your everyday life.
And make no mistake: a walk in nature has benefits that go far beyond the count on your pedometer.