Stay Home, Stay Safe – Keep Moving

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woman walking on road.The American Heart Association has designated April as Move More Month, encouraging all Americans to be more active on a regular basis. As we follow CDC  recommendations  for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic by working and schooling at home, going out for essential errands only and staying away from loved ones and friends who are especially vulnerable, the risk of becoming sedentary is increased. According to Eat Smart Move More NC, one in four adults sits for more than 8 hours per day. This sedentary lifestyle, regardless of physical activity, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as mortality in adults.

Eat Smart Move More NC has identified eight core evidence-based lifestyle behaviors that can improve overall health. Three of these core behaviors; Move More, Sit Less and Manage Stress can all be achieved by adding more movement to your day. Moving more can be as simple as turning on some music and dancing, following along with an online exercise, yoga or line dancing routine, setting the timer and walking laps inside or around the outside of your house. Cleaning chores like vacuuming (20 minutes is like walking a mile), mopping and window washing, are also beneficial. Check out this link from the American Heart Association for more ideas on moving anytime, anywhere.

Health experts agree that while government officials are urging us to “stay home, stay safe” during this pandemic, exercising outdoors can be a healthy choice as long as you use caution. Dr. Jeffrey Harris, professor and chair of the University of Washington’s department of health services in the School of Public Health points out that it is important to know where to go and how to behave when you get there. Avoiding overcrowded parks, biking, walking and hiking trails as well as following the 6-feet distancing rule are keys to social distancing. People living in urban areas should seek out areas that are off the beaten path or plan activity during an off peak time. Parents and siblings playing soccer or basketball in the yard or park is fine but avoid playdates that bring different families together.

Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week and should perform muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week. Children ages 6 to 17 need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day and should get a mix of bone strengthening, muscle building, and aerobic activities

My favorite physical activity is walking. It’s easy, it’s free and you can do it on your own schedule and at your own pace. Just lace up your walking shoes and grab a family member, your dog or if you like the solitude, go it alone, just start walking. There are countless ways to move more but walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all. It is the simplest way to improve your health. Walking 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, improve blood sugar, help maintain a healthy weight, lower the risk of obesity and osteoporosis, improve balance and flexibility and improve  mental well-being. Don’t delay, get out, keep your distance and start safely walking today!