If you’re between ages 35 and 64, the American Heart Association wants you to pay attention to how long you stay sedentary. And with the fall season in full swing, the temptation to curl up on the couch, staring at a computer or tablet, and spending downtime on our phones, is stronger than ever. But the health consequences of these behaviors are a growing risk for cardiovascular disease later on.
Exercise helps arteries expand, which means blood flow happens more freely. When you’re sedentary, your blood flow can become restricted.
According to the American Heart Association, “9 in 10 strokes could be attributed to modifiable risk factors such as sedentary behaviors.” The recommendation for most Americans is to get at least 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity per week.
If you find yourself struggling to muster up the energy to exercise daily, the good news is that a bit of effort can go a long way. And after a couple of weeks of moving more, you may be surprised at how much you look forward to it, especially when the colder temperatures keep you couped up.
Here are a few ideas to get you more active during the fall season:
- Walking – by far the most approachable activity to commit to for most people. Whether you go outdoors to breathe in the fall air or stay indoors and hop on a treadmill, you can get your heart pumping and blood flowing within minutes. Start with 10 minutes per day and work your way up each week. And whenever you can, park far away from stores, take the stairs–engage in any tactics to get more steps.
- Hiking – if you like to be outdoors and experience the fall foliage all around you, hiking is a great activity. Not only are you getting in steps, but you’re connecting with nature all around you, which is also good for your heart in a different way.
- Take an online exercise class – there are so many options, both free and premium. You don’t even have to leave your house. Instructors host sessions virtually that range from beginner to advanced. To start, head over to Youtube and search 15-minute at-home workouts.
- Bodyweight exercises – In-between meetings, commercial breaks, at lunch or first thing in the morning, knock out a few sets of bodyweight squats, pushups, lunges, and stretches. Do 3-5 exercises for three sets of 10-20 reps multiple times throughout the day. It’s an easy, approachable way to break up your workouts and move more throughout your day.
Staying active in the fall is paramount for your overall health, but even more so for your cardiovascular health. Taking small steps every day can make a world of difference for your short and long-term health.