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Updated: May 26, 2010 16:58 IST

Don't be a couch potato

NAMITA JAIN
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It is important to increase your activity levels whenever possible. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf
THE HINDU It is important to increase your activity levels whenever possible. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

If you sit around, doing nothing, you become an easy target. A sedentary lifestyle put you at risk of developing chronic health conditions such as obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes and hypercholesterolemia. Add to this mood swings, lethargy and a dip in energy levels and you get the idea — you do need to get moving!

Did you know?

A sedentary lifestyle is as much of a risk factor for disease as high blood pressure, obesity and smoking.

Get active

It is important to increase your activity levels whenever possible. Every little bit counts, because whenever you move, you are using energy and burning calories. Walking, active chores at home, gardening, mowing the lawn, spring cleaning, walking up the stairs, walking your dog, carrying your weekly shopping home and dancing, are all forms of physical activity!

Cooking 148 calories per hour

Cleaning the home 207 calories per hour

Childcare (dressing, feeding, while standing) 207 calories per hour

Dancing 266 calories per hour

Banish these five myths

Myth 1: Work pressures tire me. I am too fatigued to exercise.

Fact: Break your workouts into three 10-minute segments each day. Taking three short breaks to exercise may seem easier and less tiring than one 30-minute workout session. Also, in time, you will find regular exercise gives you more energy to cope with work pressures.

Myth 2: I am not overweight, so I am not motivated to get active.

Fact: Think of the health benefits of regular physical activity. Research shows that people who are overweight but active are fitter than those who lead a sedentary life. Regular exercise increases blood circulation, lowers cholesterol and decreases chances of heart disease.

Myth 3: I do not have anyone to watch my kids while I work out.

Fact: Kids need to exercise too. Do something physically active with them such as walk, run or play a sport.

Myth 4: My family and friends are not physically active so I neglect exercise, too.

Fact: Enjoy the rewards of exercise such as better sleep, a stronger and healthier body, and more energy. Maybe that will inspire them as well to get active.

Myth 5: I have never been the athletic type. I am afraid I'll hurt myself.

Fact: You do not have to be an athlete to benefit from physical activity. You can just walk regularly or try yoga.

Fit tips

* If you are sitting, get up and walk around the room every one hour. Remember to do this when you are watching television or at the office. This helps to keep your circulation going.

* Take the stairs, rather than use the elevator. With practice you will be able to do this without getting out of breath.

* Chores such as gardening and walking the dog are a great way to keep fit.

* Remember to keep your abs tucked in at all times. This will help strengthen the abdominal muscles.

* Make exercise a commitment. Mark “exercise” in your daily planner.

* It is a great idea to take short breaks to simply stretch and release stiffness and tension from your muscles while at work.

* Relax your eyes. Briskly rub your palms together until they are warm and then place the cupped palms over your closed eyes. Remain in this position for at least 1-minute. Repeat this exercise as often as you can during the day.

* Take deep breaths when you are stressed. Deep, slow breathing results in a stronger and more efficient working of the heart and lungs.

* Get your daily dose of vitamin D. The early morning rays of the sun are gentle and will provide you valuable vitamin D for healthy bones. However, exposure to the sun for long periods is not recommended.

* Make housework fun! Realise that all physical activity counts and is good for you. Dust and vacuum to your favourite tunes and throw in a dance step or two along the way.

The writer is a certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist.

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