A prescription for good health

May 07, 2021
Healthy tips
5 min read

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Physical activity is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. In fact, improved fitness is the strongest predictor of future health, even more than blood pressure or high cholesterol, diabetes or obesity, and even smoking. Regular activity, no matter your age, can improve your quality of life and make you feel more energetic. In fact, getting active reduces anxiety by 48 percent, decreases the chance of knee arthritis by 47 percent, and hip fractures by 41 percent.

Not ready to run a marathon? The good news is some activity is still better than none. It’s better to be active, even just a little, every day of the week. Plus, the evidence is in—just 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day is enough to provide health benefits. No matter your routine, your lifestyle, or your health, there are physical activities that you can do.

It's easy to put exercise and activity at the bottom of your long to-do list, but being active is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. The best way to get started is to find an activity or sport you enjoy that is convenient and affordable. If you have any concerns about increasing your physical activity, be sure to consult your healthcare provider to get appropriate guidance.

If you’re ready to start moving but aren’t sure where to start, considering walking more. Studies show that walking just 10 minutes a day reduces systolic blood pressure by 12 percent, 15 minutes a day of walking prolongs life by three years, and walking 30 minutes a day reduces the combined risk for stroke, diabetes, heart attacks and cancer by 51 percent. Another plus of walking is that it can be one of the most effective ways to reduce waist circumference.

Be sure to consider a variety of different types of activities to help you stay active over your lifetime, including:

  • Active transport: Using physical activity to get from one destination to another, such as walking or bicycling.
  • Incidental activity: Any small form of movement that adds up throughout the day, resulting in increased daily activity. Minor changes to daily choices can have a big impact on your health and wellbeing. Consider taking the stairs, moving while watching television, walking the dog, and engaging in active play with kids.
  • Organized sports: By enrolling in sports such as pickleball, tennis, or disc golf, you can reap the benefits of being more active while making new friends.
  • Planned activity: Set a time to be active such as meeting a friend for a walk, going for a swim, or participating in Centered Outdoors virtual program to connect you to a variety of nature spots throughout central Pennsylvania. Start your virtual Centred Outdoors tour with a spotlight of the H. Karl and F. Joan Spackman Barnett Healing Garden at Mount Nittany Medical Center, focusing on how green spaces support health and wellness. 

Be sure to follow COVID-19 social distancing guidelines while being active. Be sure to maintain a safe distance between yourself and other individuals if you go walking, biking, or hiking. If you decide to go to a nearby park or popular hiking destination, be sure to check for closures or restrictions. Consider the number of other people who might be there and if you'd be able to ensure enough space — at least six feet —between yourself and others. You can check the latest guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health at health.pa.gov. If you can't practice safe social distancing in public, you can find ways to get active inside at home or in your yard.

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