We all know choosing the right foods is a huge part of living a healthy lifestyle, but it's not the only important factor. Proper nutrition along with physical activity are key components to living a long, happy, and healthy life. Physical activity is not only good for weight management, but it also lowers the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and depression.
The recommendation for an adult is at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day for maintaining current weight, and 60 minutes per day for weight loss (along with a healthy diet).
A workout can consist of a cardiovascular exercises, strength training exercises, flexibility exercises, or a mixture of all three. Cardiovascular exercises include brisk walking, running, bicycling, dancing, swimming, jumping, and many others. Strength training exercises are those that use weight or resistance to make muscles work harder and get stronger such as full-body circuits, ab workouts, weight lifting, etc. Flexibility exercises are those that include stretching or range-of-motion like yoga, pilates, or tai chi. Ideally, all these workouts should be combined in order to get the most health benefits. It's important to mix it up because our body can get used to the same type of workout if done consistently, and after some time, won't provide the same results. Also, a variety of these type of exercises and/or workouts will most likely keep you motivated and won't get boring. It's a good way to keep your body challenged and your mind engaged.
Being active doesn't require a gym membership or lots of fitness equipment. The point is to get your heart rate up and keep it up for 30-60 minutes at a time. So get some exercise clothes on, grab a water bottle, and you're good to go!
I've created a list of exercises that don't require a lot of equipment and can be combined to create a quick workout or circuit to get your heart beat going for 30 minutes or more at home, at the park, at the gym, or even at work during a break. Pick about 4 of these exercises, do 15-20 repetitions of each, then repeat. You can do about 3 cycles of this and then choose another 3-4 exercises and do the same until you reach at least 30 minutes (and hopefully break a sweat):
- Jump rope
- Jump squats and/or lunges
- Run/jog in place
- Run in place bringing knees up
- Jumping jacks
- Mountain climbers
- Ab crunches
- Side reaches for obliques
- Tricep dips
- Push ups
- Run up and down stairs
I know it's sometimes hard to set aside 30-60 minutes of your day to workout, but being active doesn't need to be something to stress about rather than part of your every day life (because it will make you feel great!). If you absolutely cannot make time to workout during the day, there are small changes that can be made to your every day routine that can add up to at least 30 minutes of physical activity. Some tips are:
- Walk or bike to work/school/gym or at least anywhere within 2 miles
- Park further away from building entrance
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Go on a walk during your lunch break (after eating, of course)
- Dance when you're stuck in traffic (my favorite!)
For weight loss, the foods you eat are just as important as physical activity. The amount of calories that you burn needs to be higher than the amount of calories you consume. Finding a balance between the right foods and physical activity is important for optimal health. Natural, whole foods are usually lower in calories and provide the nutrients your body needs to have energy and function properly. Avoid consuming high-fat and high-sugar drinks and foods that don't provide any nutrients such as soft drinks, fast-food, candies, and chips or other snack foods.