Last week’s post suggested small adjustments to your daily routine that will help support a healthy lifestyle. Making healthier food choices is a good start, but a healthy lifestyle isn’t just about the food you eat; you also need to incorporate movement and exercise. Let’s look at some easy ways to get you moving more.
Technology, Gadgets and Inactivity
Technology has changed our lives in ways that we couldn’t have imagined even just a few years ago. Movies are now available “on demand” and we can even take them with us when we travel! We record our favorite television shows on DVRs so we never miss an episode. Even our housecleaning can be done by a robotic vacuum. The downside to all these advances is that we are becoming more socially isolated and are not as physically active as we once were.
According to the Mayo Clinic: “research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.” All that binge-watching of Stranger Things or Game of Thrones might be entertaining and relaxing, but it is also negatively affecting your health.
Movement of any kind is beneficial to your body—even something as small as walking around while talking on the phone or brushing your teeth in the morning. If you sit behind a desk for long periods at work, consider asking your boss for a standing desk converter so you have the option of standing while you work. If you are meeting with coworkers, suggest a walk-and-talk, and walk the halls of your building (or go outside, if weather permits) while you discuss business. And forget about the robotic vacuums. Get that monster out of the closet and move around the house! Making a conscious effort to move more will boost your energy, improve your outlook, and burn a few more calories that may eventually lead to weight loss. You don’t have to take up running or join an expensive gym to keep your body moving.
Social interaction is an important part of overall health. According to The National Institute on Aging, “several research studies have shown a strong correlation between social interaction and health and well-being among older adults and have suggested that social isolation may have significant adverse effects for older adults.” When you sit down and turn on Netflix, or park yourself in front of your computer to check your Facebook or Instagram accounts, you are closing yourself off from real live social interaction. One simple way to break this cycle is to make the dinner table a tech-free zone: no smartphones, tablets, handheld games, or other electronic devices during meals. You can also incorporate exercise and socializing into a fun activity. Take a family walk before dinner, or grab a friend and schedule time to meet and chat while cruising the neighborhood. By walking or working out with a friend, you are more likely to stick to your commitment, while also helping your neighbors to get healthier, too.
Using Technology to Get Healthy
In addition to helping us do or get things at the touch of a button, technology can help you keep your commitment to living healthier.
Wearable technology (pedometers, Fitbit, Apple Watch, and Garmin) can help you meet your fitness goals by counting how many steps you take in a day, flights of stairs you climb; some track your heartrate and how you are sleeping at night. You can buy an inexpensive pedometer at Walmart, or your local drug store, for less than $10. If you are interested in devices that do more than just count steps, they can run from $50 to over $300. Some even have the ability to remind you to get moving throughout the day by vibrating when you have been still for too long.
If you have a smart TV, you can use a host of streaming apps to get moving daily, from extreme workouts to yoga, all in the privacy of your own home. Apps like Grokker, DailyBurn, or BeachBody On Demand all give you the ability to work out in the privacy or your own home, and for a fraction of what it would cost to join a gym. You may even have some old Jane Fonda workout tapes lying around. Pop them into the VCR and rock out to some 80’s music and shake your booty. It doesn’t matter what you do to get your body moving, just that you DO get moving.
We realize that some of these suggestions won’t work for everyone, but they are just some examples of small changes that you can make in your daily routine to improve your health. Remember: healthy behavior is contagious; what you do influences your friends and neighbors. Do you have any ideas you would like to share about ways to get the community moving? Please comment below and let’s help spread the word about moving more so we can get healthier.
NOTE: While this post provides examples of devices and services, the 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health in no way promotes or endorses any specific device or company.