It’s not always easy to find time to get up and get moving. From extreme weather patterns and global pandemics to long and stressful workdays, by the time most people get a second of free time, they often choose to spend it relaxing.
However, inside or outside, global pandemic or not, finding time to get active each day is a must. Even if it doesn’t mean leaving the house, getting your blood flowing helps your body and health in myriad ways.
But how active should you be each day? Is it okay to have lazy days? Let’s take a look at what the experts say.
The downsides of being sedentary
Today, many people lead sedentary lifestyles. This is where most free time is spent sitting instead of moving or standing. While 21st-century life often seems designed for staying still, doing so isn’t good for your health.
For one thing, extensive sitting causes you to burn fewer calories. One study found that farmers burn up to 1,000 calories more per day than office workers and people who work desk jobs (1). Workers who sit most of the day have a significant risk of developing obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health issues.
Although studies are ongoing, there also seems to be a correlation between extensive sitting and early death. Specifically, sedentary people have between a 22-44% higher risk of premature death (2).
Walking your way to victory
Contrary to what you may think, you don’t need to hit the gym five times a week to be an active and healthy person. Sometimes, all you need to do is get up from your desk, stretch, and walk around.
The number of steps you take each day is a great way to estimate how active you are. While the exact numbers may vary, most health experts use the following categories:
- Inactive: Fewer than 5,000 steps per day
- Moderately active: Between 5,000-10,000 steps per day
- Active: More than 10,000 steps per day
To track the number of steps you get, use your phone or a smartwatch to keep track of your walking history. If you notice yourself walking less than you did in the past, make an effort to try and change that. Even if positive changes occur gradually, that’s better than nothing!
While steps are important, they’re not everything. You should also aim to incorporate other forms of activity throughout the day.
Health experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity activity each week. In addition, you should also try and do muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week.
While all of that might seem like a lot, remember that it’s over seven days. Yoga, running, swimming, and going to the gym are some of the many ways you can knock out your fitness goals for the week.
If you’re trying to squeeze fitness into a hectic and chaotic routine, stick to the basics—just make time for aerobics and strength training a few times a week. However, if you have the time and the willpower, don’t be afraid to get more active.
By going beyond the recommended activity levels, you’ll enjoy even more health benefits over time!