From the Couch to 5k: Move to a More Active Lifestyle
If you’ve been living a sedentary lifestyle, now is the time to make a change and turn your life into a more active one. Modern advancements make lives simpler, yet many of us now lead more sedentary lifestyles. It is thought that moving less and sitting more is a key contributor to the obesity epidemic and is connected to a variety of health issues. If it’s been your goal to lose weight and even achieve an admirable athletic goal, such as completing a 5k, you can begin that journey as soon as today.
Negative Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle
If you spend more than half of your time not moving, you’re living a sedentary lifestyle. If this is how you’ve been living recently, then you may have noticed increased feelings of fatigue, depression, and changes in your weight, metabolism, and overall health. It’s been noted that a sedentary lifestyle can lead to several health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and various types of cancer.
As your body sits around, it loses the muscle and strength it has built over the years, conditioning your body for a less active lifestyle. Your idle body will get tired out much easier, and your breathing gets shallower, which slows your circulatory process and intake of oxygen. It can impact how you sleep, too, reducing the overall quantity and quality.
All of these factors spell bad news for your mental health, in addition to your physical health. Regular exercise often results in the release of serotonin, which are neurotransmitters that regulate your mood. The less serotonin you release, the worse you’ll feel. Even if a 5k isn’t appealing to you, the idea of a better and healthier life could be. Taking the steps to become a more active person provides nothing but a wealth of benefits for your body and your brain.
Getting Up and Getting Out There
For many of us, it can be easy to make excuses about life getting in the way, and often it’s a valid reason. It can be difficult to carve out time every day in our busy lives and start a brand new routine that requires drastic changes to many aspects of our lives. We encourage you to start slow. No one is asking you to run the 5k tomorrow; it will be ready when you are willing.
Every little bit helps. Taking the stairs, walking down the street or through a mall, or even just committing to an extra 5 minutes of light exercise or stretching is a great first step to take and better than doing nothing at all. As you keep exercising, you’ll find that making time for it becomes natural and much easier. Make a bit of effort today, and you’ll be making massive strides tomorrow.
The Steps to Take
1. Get a Physical Assessment
There is no one exact way that every person begins their fitness journey. Everyone approaches it from different lifestyles, weights, ages, and state of health. Meet with a healthcare professional to find out what level of activity is safe for you. They can often provide you take-home information about helpful, easy-to-complete workouts or suggestions on changing your diet. Some might also recommend trusted dietitians or physical therapists to help you meet your specific needs. Don’t be afraid to start a dialogue about active lifestyles at your next checkup.
2. Set Realistic Goals
The road to peak health is a long but very achievable one. No one is asking or expecting you to reach your exact goal in a day or even a month. You can start by taking baby steps, like walking for five minutes a day. Shoot for 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day by the end of the week. An easy habit is drinking water. Water aids in the digestion of food by flushing out toxins and preventing dehydration. It’s essential for good health, but studies have found that nearly half of Americans are considered dehydrated. The daily recommended amount of water is about 13 cups for men and 9 cups for women. Try to drink one every hour, or get in the habit of carrying a thermos with you, wherever you go.
3. Choose Your Favorite Activities
If you’ve been interested in a certain physical hobby for some time but haven’t found a good reason to start, here it is. Walking, running, biking, and swimming are fun, easy, and accessible methods of exercise for just about everyone. Say you like watching golf, baseball, or bowling on TV, you could try looking for local teams or clubs that are open to anyone. From tennis to boxing, martial arts, softball, or other sports, you’d be surprised at the number of clubs in your area that caters to beginners in sports and exercise. Research online and pick the exercise you’d love to try the most.
4. Gear Up
Wearing the right clothes and gear can make your workouts much more comfortable. Try wearing a fitness tracker to count your steps, monitor your heart rate, and keep a record of the exercises you do. If you like to run outside, wear breathable clothing. This includes the right shoes and socks. We encourage you to check out the amazing products from our friends at FitSok who have perfected the perfect running sock. They make their socks with state-of-the-art fabrics that wick moisture and ventilate your feet, keeping you dry, cool, and slip-free no matter where you run. Plan your next run with a pair of FitSok socks.
5. 30 Minutes of Activity a Day
By exercising just 30 minutes a day, you’ve already made incredible strides in improving your overall health, including your heart health, mental health, and weight. It can also help to reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and stroke. It’s a great starting time that’s a functional first step that will evolve into longer, more strenuous, and more engaging workouts as your body reaches a healthier state of being.