23 Dec 11 Tips to Help You Maintain a Healthy, Active Lifestyle
There’s no doubt that an active lifestyle contributes significantly to overall health and wellness. But if you’re not someone who’s naturally drawn to regular exercise, the idea of an active lifestyle might seem less than appealing — and quite frankly, too much like hard work. It doesn’t have to be though.
In this guide, we’ll review the many health benefits of an active lifestyle, then explore how you can easily implement (and enjoy) more active practices in your day-to-day routine. The boost you’ll gain in your quality of life is well worth the effort.
What Is an Active Lifestyle?
For those who tend to lead a more sedentary lifestyle, let’s start by clarifying this: An active lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to join a gym or start running marathons. It simply means making regular physical activity a part of your daily routine.
For starters, aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week, then slowly increase your exercise time and activity levels. That could be 30 minutes on a structured exercise program, or 10 minutes three times a day doing different types of physical activity. Of course, it helps if you get some regular exercise and aim to move throughout the day, but the point is to just get moving.
Benefits of an Active Lifestyle
According to a 2018 survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only 24% of adults get enough aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise. So it’s not that surprising that our national rate of obesity is edging towards 40%.
The problem is that obesity and physical inactivity seriously increase the risk of developing a chronic disease or other health condition. For example, research shows that there’s a direct link between a sedentary lifestyle and cardiovascular disease mortality. This has massive implications not only for the cost of personal healthcare but also for public health and productivity. In contrast, a healthy and active lifestyle offers many benefits:
- It helps you burn calories and maintain a healthy weight, which is not only good for you but also helps you feel better about yourself.
- It lowers your risk of many health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
- It keeps your joints and muscles moving, and reduces pain, even if you already have a condition like osteoporosis or arthritis.
- It keeps you fit and strong so you can more easily carry out your daily tasks, whether that’s walking upstairs, lugging shopping bags, or simply enjoying time playing with your kids.
- It helps you sleep better, so you have more energy to thrive during the day.
- It’s excellent for your emotional and mental health, reducing anxiety and increasing a general sense of well-being.
- It saves you money that you would otherwise spend on medical costs.
If you have a pre-existing health condition, check with your doctor or another healthcare practitioner before starting any kind of exercise program. Also, start your active lifestyle slowly or you may end up injuring yourself, which will put a dent in your motivation and momentum.
11 Tips for Maintaining an Active Lifestyle
Living an active life may seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. There are many ways to easily integrate regular exercise into your daily life in an enjoyable way. Let’s have a look at where to start.
1. Incorporate More Movement Into Your Daily Activities
Moving more might mean parking a little farther away from the store when you do your shopping, walking up the stairs rather than taking the elevator or escalator, or taking a walk while you catch up with your friend (rather than sitting down to have coffee). Cleaning, gardening, and yard work all count towards your active lifestyle too, and they’re chores you need to do anyway.
2. Endurance Exercise
Endurance exercise keeps your heart and lungs working well. Otherwise known as aerobic exercise or cardio, your goal here is to increase your breathing and heart rate. Jogging achieves this, but so do activities like a brisk walk at lunchtime or after work, dancing in your living room, cycling, playing tennis or a game of basketball, or swimming at your local pool.
3. Flexibility Exercises
Flexibility exercises keep your muscles and joints moving so you can easily move around. Any kind of stretching exercise helps, and you should always stretch before doing other types of exercise.
If you’re mostly at your desk or sedentary throughout the day, set a reminder to stand up every hour or so to do some light stretches. You could also join a yoga or tai chi class, which also helps with balance. Gentler sports like bowling and golf also help you stretch, as do household activities like vacuuming or mopping the floor.
4. Strength Training
Weight-bearing exercises keep your muscles strong and help you maintain bone density. An active lifestyle that includes resistance exercises is especially important for older adults who naturally lose muscle mass and strength — as well as bone density — with age.
Normal resistance training exercises that use your bodyweight, like squats and push-ups, work well. But if that’s too much for you, you can do them using a wall or chair for support. Otherwise, try some light weights — even a can of beans — or a resistance band. Carrying your groceries up the stairs or chopping wood also counts here.
When you have more lean muscle than fat, it increases your metabolic rate, which helps burn calories faster, even when you’re not actively moving.
5. Eat All the Food Groups
The benefits of physical activity are very clear and it’s important to include exercise in your daily routine. But let’s not forget about another crucial element of your health — a balanced diet with plenty of nutritious food. Junk food is easy and often cheap, but only if you don’t consider the long-term cost to your health. Eating the right food will keep you energized and help you maintain your active lifestyle.
Aim to include all the food groups in your meals — protein, whole grains, healthy fats, fresh fruit, and vegetables. Each of these contains important nutrients that your body needs to function properly. To maintain balance, make sure you’re eating them in the right proportions.
6. Prioritize Protein
Protein is particularly important to keep your muscles, bones, and organs healthy, and your whole body functioning properly. As mentioned, this becomes even more critical for older adults.
If you’re struggling to include enough protein in your meals, consider adding a high-quality protein supplement to your daily routine. For example, if you’re fine with dairy, you could consider a product like Performix ioWhey Protein. Or if you prefer a dairy-free, plant-based supplement, Kaged Muscle Plantein would be a good choice.
The good news is that protein powders are incredibly versatile and easy to use whether you’re at home or on the go. You can add them to your food or drink it in a protein shake or smoothie between meals or as a meal replacement.
7. Make a Plan
Deciding that you’ll do some exercise when you have a moment to spare doesn’t usually work. You need to be more targeted than that if you want an active lifestyle.
Draw up a plan for your exercise routine, even if it’s flexible. For example, you might decide that you’ll go for a post-work brisk walk at 5 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays, do some squats and wall push-ups at lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then do an online yoga class on Saturday morning.
Once you come up with a plan, make sure you schedule those activities into your day. Add them to your calendar or draw up a schedule to stick on your fridge.
8. Keep It Varied
Try different activities to find out what you enjoy and keep things interesting by mixing them up. There’s no need to do the same type of exercise every day. You can also combine some exercise with another activity. For example, you can do some squats or jumping jacks while you watch TV or listen to music, or walk while talking on the phone.
9. Make a Shopping List
To keep yourself on track with your nutrition goals, set aside time each weekend to decide on your meals for the coming week. Then draw up a shopping list and only buy the items on the list. This ensures you have the ingredients you need on hand and also reduces the chance you’ll buy things you don’t need — like unhealthy snacks.
10. Get Support
Exercising together often makes it that much more fun. Feel free to enlist your family members in your active lifestyle or ask a friend to join you for some of your activities. If you’d like some guidance, consider hiring a fitness instructor for a couple of sessions or joining a community class — you may even find some for free in your area.
11. Reward Yourself
Tick off your active lifestyle activities in your diary or give yourself a gold star every time you do them. Also notice and acknowledge changes, however small. For example, perhaps you’re walking up the stairs more easily, sleeping better, or generally feeling more energized.
It’s important to feel like you’re getting somewhere and small rewards can take you far. At the end of each week or month, you could reward yourself for sticking to your plans with something a bit bigger, like a massage or an evening out.
A Healthy Lifestyle Keeps You Fit and Focused Your Whole Life
An active lifestyle is critically important to overall health and well-being. It helps you stay strong and fit, both physically and mentally, and reduces your risk of chronic diseases and other health conditions.
Start small by simply incorporating more movement into your daily life, then work on including endurance, strength, and flexibility training in your exercise routine. A healthy diet that includes plenty of whole foods is important too.
To keep yourself on track, draw up a plan and track your progress. Before you know it, your new exercise routine will be a habit you truly enjoy.