Movement March: Making a Case for More Physical Activity
Sometimes, it’s easier to come up with reasons not to exercise than it is to get out and get moving. Maybe you struggle to find the time for physical fitness between work, children and other life demands, or maybe you’re simply too tired at the end of the day to hit the gym or get outside.
In fact, these are two of the most common reasons people cite for why they don’t exercise – but if you count yourself among them, know that there are some easy, effective solutions out there. After all, exercise isn’t just good for your body – it also has a substantial impact on heart health. Here’s how.
How exercise impacts heart health
Exercise is one of four major lifestyle factors impacting heart health. Alongside eating right, abstaining from smoking and maintaining a healthy weight, exercising can also cut your overall chance of death from any cause by an astounding 80%.
Here are some of the other ways physical activity leads to a healthier heart.
By strengthening your muscles
When you combine aerobic activity, like walking, hiking or running, with weight-lifting, resistance-training or strength-training, you stimulate your muscles to extract oxygen from your blood. In doing so, you reduce how hard your heart has to work to move blood to your muscles, thereby reducing the strain on one of your hardest-working muscles of all.
By lowering blood pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, elevates your odds of developing heart disease and is often the result of poor diet, insufficient sleep, age and many other factors. Exercise helps lower blood pressure, with cardiovascular and aerobic exercise proving especially effective at doing so.
By reducing stress
It can be tough to get off the couch and get moving, but you’re probably never going to regret doing so. While exercise, itself, has mood-boosting effects, many forms of aerobic exercise and strength training also lower stress levels. High stress levels can take a toll on your heart health, but exercise helps you manage stress. It may also help you sleep better at night, which can help you feel even more at-ease during waking hours.
By helping you quit smoking
When you smoke, your risk of heart disease skyrockets – but quitting has positive, almost-immediate effects on heart health. Also, many smokers who start exercising find that staying active helps them quit.
How to Keep Your Body Moving This March
While many people who fail to get enough exercise blame exhaustion or a lack of time, others attribute not working out to not having access to a gym. Yet, there are many innovative ways to get your recommended daily exercise without having to hit the gym. Here are just a few ideas.
Bust out the vacuum
Vacuuming makes your home look better, but it’s also an effective workout! In fact, a half hour of vacuuming offers the same health benefits as 10 minutes on a cross-trainer.
Walk the dog
Having a dog is a great way to hold yourself accountable for exercising. While a lap or two around the block makes your dog happy and may keep him or her from bugging you throughout the day, it’s also a great way to get your own steps in.
Maximize TV time
There’s no shame in sitting down and flipping on the TV at the end of a long day – but there’s no harm in making the most of your time spent in front of the tube, either. Consider positioning a stationary bike or treadmill in front of your TV, or practice weight-lifting or stretching while catching up on your favorite shows.
Mop your floors
Many cleaning efforts double as exercise, and mopping your floors is among them. Studies show that mopping your kitchen or bathroom floor helps tone muscles, boost flexibility and burn the same amount of calories as you would doing 20 minutes of ballroom dancing.
Find a workout buddy
Accountability is key when it comes to sticking to a workout regimen, and sometimes, all you need to stay accountable is someone else who has similar goals.
Music to Keep You Motivated This March
While some people prefer not to listen to music while working out, others swear by doing so, saying it boosts stamina and elevates their moods. Studies suggest that moving in sync with music also has positive psychological effects and in some cases, can even inspire you to exercise longer and harder.
Need some musical motivation to get out the door? Try this running playlist from Spotify or this 21-track playlist from Runner’s World and see if music has similar effects on your own March workouts.