Whether it’s playing soccer with your kids, hitting the treadmill, or simply walking the dog after dinner, more and more research is showing just how important it is to add physical activity into our lives. As it turns out, sitting too much can be almost as bad for you as smoking.
Adding some exercise to your weekly routine is a great way to improve your overall health. Experts recommend incorporating 2.5 hours or more of activity every week, or about 20 minutes per day. In fact, moving more and sitting less reduces your risk for cancer, dementia, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and obesity. It can even help with recovering from injury and illness, along with reducing stress, improving your mental health, boosting your self-confidence, and enhancing your intimate relationships.
The key is finding ways to get your body moving. From doing a few squats while you’re on a break at work, to throwing a frisbee around with your friends at the park, to doing vigorous yard or house work, any movement or activity that increases your breathing and heart rate counts.
Even if you’re meeting the recommended amount of weekly activity, it’s still important to limit sitting (sedentary) time to 8 hours per day or less with frequent breaks, as excessive sitting increases your risk for cancer and other diseases. That means getting up, moving around and having fun.
If you think you could be more active, you’re not alone. 57% of Manitobans believe they aren’t doing enough or could be doing more when it comes to being active (Doctors Manitoba 2023 survey). Below you will find suggestions from doctors about simple steps you can take.
Here’s a few ideas to get you moving.
Start small. Add some extra steps by taking the stairs, parking a little further away, or getting off the bus one stop early. Working up to 10-minute periods of being active is a good way to start.
Remember that being active includes exercise, such as walking, hiking, jogging, swimming, biking or playing sports, as well as other types of activities like walking the dog, cleaning, and raking. Children are naturally active when they are playing outside with other children.
Try Taking“microbreaks” from sitting. Stand or walk around while talking on the phone.
Include muscle and bone strengthening exercises in your weekly routine.
Incorporate active transportation into your week, by biking or walking to work or social events.
Try enjoying the outdoors more often. Being in nature is also connected with mental and physical wellbeing. Be sure to wear sunscreen.
Don’t forget to have fun. Pick something you love, and it’ll be a lot easier to keep doing it.
Focus on progress, not perfection. Be proud of what you’re able to do. Mark your activity on a calendar and celebrate the days you “get moving!”
When to Call a Doctor
Sometimes it is important to see a doctor before making changes in your activity level and exercise routines. Some of the reasons include:
You have any symptoms (chest pain, joint pain, shortness of breath) that limit your ability to gradually increase your activity level
You aren’t comfortable being more active because you worry about falling or are falling at your current activity level
You take over-the-counter pain medications or muscle-relaxants because of muscle and joint pain
You can learn more and get additional tips from these sites:
Winnipeg in motion has tips to be more active for children, adults and older Manitobans.
CancerCare Manitoba has information about moving more, including how cancer can be prevented through more physical activity, suggestions for what to do, and local resources throughout Manitoba to help.
The Cancer Society offers tips on sitting less and why it cuts your risk for cancer.
Fitness Blender offers a series of free online workouts and other resources.
The Canadian Physician Activity Guidelines offers more information and tips on getting active.