With this quarantine period going on, it’s so easy for us to spend hours sitting on the couch and watching Netflix while we scroll through our Instagram feeds, contemplating stories in our heads of what’s going to happen next. Well – the way it is going, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next thing, we hear is that the Dinosaurs have returned. Who knows, maybe aliens would pay a visit!
Jokes aside – with this COVID-19 situation, one thing has become crystal clear: we need to take better care of ourselves. We need to take our physical and mental health seriously because medicines don’t always work! And quite honestly, relying on medicine is doing yourself a huge disservice.
While it is important to eat healthily and consume positive vibes only; it is also very important to stay active in order to be physically and mentally healthy!
ACTIVE VS SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE
First things first, you need to understand the difference between an active and a sedentary lifestyle. If you think that you have an active lifestyle because you work out for 30 minutes and spend the rest of the day doing absolutely nothing, I’m sorry to burst your bubble...
Being active doesn’t mean you need to have a hectic routine. Neither do you need an intense workout plan... What you need is to make sure that you keep moving in regular intervals so the body keeps burning the energy it is storing throughout the day.
Did you know that 80.2 million Americans aged six and older are physically inactive? According to a study, approximately 3.2 million deaths each year are caused due to insufficient physical activity. A sedentary lifestyle can cause severe health concerns. Largely on how it affects our immune system as well.
Being a couch potato. Not exercising. Sitting idle. An inactive lifestyle. You have probably heard of all of the phrases – this is a sedentary lifestyle – which means a lifestyle with a lot of sitting and lying down, with very little to no exercise. Pair that with a mindless dietary lifestyle and, "Houston, we're about to have a problem!"
In the US and around the world, people are spending more and more time doing sedentary activities. Even during our leisure time, we are often sitting: while using a computer or other devices, watching TV, or playing video games.
Our bodies already account for our daily activities, this includes the simple act of breathing, walking to the bathroom, and the related duties of our 9 to 5. Some people assume because they've gone to work during the day, they're active - or, they've done enough. No. Unless the job consists of manual, physical activity like construction, or playing professional sports for instance.
RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH A SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE
A sedentary lifestyle comes with a plethora of health risks, mentioned below, which needs your attention. It is best that you do it earlier than later to prevent them altogether.
Loss of Flexibility
Blood, being a liquid, needs a free way to flow. It doesn’t flow as freely through tight, bound muscles. Inflammation and body pain rear their ugly heads as flexibility is lost. The more you sit, the more your hip flexors and low back become particularly tight. Making you even more inactive. Your abs and glutes also become weaker, and you don’t want that, do you?
A lifestyle full of inactivity means fewer calories burned. This forces your body to work harder and a lot of your body’s ability to break down fat simply shuts down.
Your bones are the structure on which your body functions. Here’s a not-so-obvious health risk. Your body and muscles are made to move you around. Your bones are prepared to bear the weight of movement to stay strong. A sedentary lifestyle or too much sitting and inactivity can lead to osteoporosis.
PERKS OF AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE
Here are a few points about the importance of being active that you need to pay attention to, which will help elevate your mind and body to achieve greatness.
It can keep your mental health issues at bay
Regular physical activity can alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, and anger. I am sure that you are aware of that "feel-good sensation" you get after doing something physical? Imagine it as a happy pill with no side effects!
People notice they feel better over time as physical activity is incorporated in their daily routines. Exercise produces changes in the parts of the brain that control stress and anxiety. It can also increase brain sensitivity for the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, relieving you from feelings of depression.
Moreover, exercise can boost the production of endorphins, which are known to help produce feelings of positivity, and reduce the perception of pain. Furthermore, research has shown that physical activity reduces symptoms in people suffering from anxiety. It can also help them be more aware of their mental state.
You might be thinking that it is a lot of work and commitment, but it doesn't matter how intense your workout is. It seems that your mood can benefit from activity - no matter the intensity of it.
The effects of exercise on mood are so powerful that choosing to exercise (or not) even makes a difference over short periods. For instance, one study asked 26 healthy men and women who exercised regularly to either continue exercising or stop exercising for two weeks. Those who stopped exercising experienced surges in a negative mood.
It can help you live longer
It’s a fact that 70 is the new 60, but only if you’re healthy! Not just cause.
People who are physically active and have maintained a healthy weight live about seven years longer than those who are obese. The important and interesting part is that those extra years are generally healthier years – perhaps a form of value addition to your life!
Being physically active aids in delaying or preventing chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging. Therefore active adults maintain their quality of life and independence longer as they age.
Exercise plays an essential role in building and maintaining strong muscles and bones. Physical activity like weight lifting and running can stimulate muscle building when putting together with sufficient protein intake. This is because exercise helps release hormones that promote the capability of your muscles to absorb amino acids. This facilitates them to grow and reduces their breakdown.
As people age, they tend to lose muscle mass and function, which can lead to injuries and disabilities. Practicing regular physical activity, even a short stroll on the street is essential to lowering muscle loss and maintaining strength as you age.
Furthermore, exercise helps build bone density when you're younger, in addition to helping prevent osteoporosis later in life. Interestingly enough, high-impact exercises, such as gymnastics or running, or odd-impact sports, such as soccer and basketball, have been shown to promote a higher bone density than non-impact sports like swimming and cycling.
Better physical health aids you to connect with yourself on a spiritual level. The act of exercising becomes an act of meditation and it leads you quite your mind down, gives you a moment to breathe and connect with yourself, it tests your will to work hard, and it makes you aware and cognizant of your surroundings.
It gives you a good night’s sleep
Regular exercise can help you relax your mind and sleep better. When we consider sleep quality, the energy diminution that occurs during exercise stimulates restorative processes during sleep. Moreover, the rise in body temperature that occurs during exercise is thought to improve sleep quality by helping it decline during sleep. Imagine having to sleep after a good workout now!
Many studies on the effects of exercise on sleep have reached similar conclusions. One study found that 150 minutes of moderate-to-intense activity per week can deliver up to a 65% enhancement in sleep quality.
Studies have shown that 16 weeks of exercise or any rigorous physical activity increased sleep quality and helped 17 people with insomnia sleep longer and more deeply than the control group. It also helped them feel more rejuvenated during the day. Isn’t it fulfilling?
Furthermore, engaging in regular exercise seems to be beneficial for the people in their old age, who tend to be affected by sleep disorders. One can be flexible with the kind of exercise one chooses. It appears that either aerobic exercise alone or aerobic exercise combined with resistance training can equally help sleep quality.
PRO TIPS FOR AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE
Living an active and healthy lifestyle is not difficult. It just needs a bit of commitment and you will be on track in no time! Below are a few ways how you can stay active:
· Although the elevator seems very tempting, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
· Stand as often as you can at work. It will help with the blood flow
· Park further away from the door at work. This will ensure that you walk before entering your office
· Walk while you are on phone calls.
· Exercise and stretch daily. Perhaps go for a run in a park or perform yoga following your favorite YouTube yogi.
However you choose to get moving, just get moving. It is for your own well being!