Your Shape – Adding Activity to Your Life

What exactly is active living? Is it going to the gym, yoga class, walking the dog, taking a tai bo class? The answer: all of the above or none of the above. Active living is simply living your life doing things that involve activity. It does not have to include going to the dreaded gym three days a week, or dragging yourself to a class you hate just so you can be fit. Active living is a concept that if we implement into our daily lives, has resounding benefits. If we (and many of us do), spend most of our days sitting at a desk, most of the evening in front of the T.V., and then six to eight hours lying in bed. What percentage of our lives are sedentary? 60%, 70%, 80% – more? Then we wonder why we have put on a few pounds, have developed back pain, or have other conditions that can be related to inactivity?

Our lives, if we let them, can become very inactive due to a combination of the nature of our work environment and how we spend our free time. When was the last time you changed the channel manually, walked up the stairs instead of using the elevator, washed dishes by hand, met a friend for a walk instead of a coffee?

I want to encourage all of you to be more active in your life. Do this simple activity to see your baseline (you may be surprised). For five days (include the weekend if you wish), record your hourly activities. For every hour, record how many minutes are spent moving and rate your movement on a scale of 1 – 5 for exertion.

• slow movement – washing dishes/making coffee – 1

• walking/gardening – 3

• formal exercise/ climbing stairs/ *you feel your heart rate is up – 5

*Sitting at the computer, watching t.v. etc does not count for this exercise. It does burn calories but is not "active”.

Once you get your baseline activity level, you can then be more active on a daily basis. You may be surprised by how often you are not moving. Even if you are fairly active, this is still a good exercise. The goal is to find your average and then work on adding things. Then you can see your progress.

Add a few small activities this week; for example, take the stairs, park your car further from the door, wash your car by hand, change the television channel without the remote for a week. Walk around when you are talking on your cordless, sway your feet under your desk, do a few leg lifts as you are lying on the couch, throw the ball for your dog, walk to the store rather than driving or take a walk during your coffee break and lunch and even use the stairs. Get a pedometer, get your baseline and add more steps each week until you reach your goal.

Of course, finding a fitness class you love, regularly walking with friends (or your dog), joining a gym (and going), or starting a hobby that is active are wonderful things to do on a regular basis. Scheduled exercise that is fun and enjoyable can become a life long pleasure that benefits your mind, body, and soul. Add the small changes and before you know it, you can say you are living actively – not just living!