Make physical activity a 2016 New Year’s resolution

Consider incorporating more physical activity into your daily routine as one of your goals for 2016.

Many of us make New Year resolutions associated with better health. Michigan State University Extension encourages you to make 2016 the year to add more physical activity to your life.

According to the 2008 U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources report, regular physical activity can help:

  • Decrease risks associated with heart disease, stroke, some cancers, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis
  • Prevent weight gain and promote weight loss (when combined with reduced calorie intake)
  • Improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
  • Improve mental health and reduce depression

Adults need at least two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes total) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, along with muscle strengthening activities that work the major muscle groups. Moderate-intensity aerobic activities will make a person breathe harder than normal, break a sweat and increase the heart rate. Brisk walking, hiking and riding a bike are examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities. Lifting weights, using elastic bands and digging or shoveling will help work the body’s muscles to increase strength and improve flexibility.

150 minutes may sound like a lot of time but it doesn’t have to be done all at once! Physical activity works best if it’s spread out during the course of a week – it can also be broken into smaller increments of time during the day. Everyday activities like gardening, housecleaning, shoveling snow and walking up the stairs can get the heart beating and strengthen muscles. The important thing to remember is to start slowly, choose activities that you enjoy and recognize your success along the way.

If you have a chronic health condition such as arthritis, diabetes or heart disease, MSU Extension recommends working with your doctor to come up with a plan that provides specific amounts and types of exercise that are appropriate for your physical abilities and prevents injury or discomfort.

For more information about physical activity for adults, check out the websites for the Centers for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm  and the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion http://health.gov/paguidelines/.

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