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May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, aimed at raising awareness about the many health benefits of physical activity. The Office on Disease Prevention and Health Promotion celebrates National Physical Fitness and Sports Month to also encourage people to get active using the Move Your Way® resources [health.gov] and interactive Move Your Way Activity Planner [health.gov]. It’s also a great time to support youth sports participation using the National Youth Sports Strategy [health.gov]. Don’t forget to check out these Healthy People 2030 physical activity evidence-based resources [health.gov] you can implement in your community. Lastly, share our list of MyHealthfinder tips [health.gov] to help people live healthier lives through increased physical activity.
Kevin says, “The health benefits are huge to getting active. It doesn’t have to be one particular thing, and the benefits go to brain function, heart health, decreasing chronic illnesses, and an increase in quality of sleep. These are all huge benefits that simple exercise can bring to your body. It can affect your everyday life, your work life, your home life, your activities. Let’s talk about sleep alone: Getting good quality sleep sets up your whole day for success. Simple exercise, even walking for 30 minutes a day, or every other day – that will improve that.”
Kevin also says the good news is that cashing in on all those health benefits doesn’t cost you much in terms of the amount of physical activity you need to put in to start finding them.
“It can be very simple. It literally can be things like ‘I’m going to get up and I’m going to go walk for 20 minutes.’ You should find something you love to do. If you love being outside make it a point to go for a walk every day. If you love to swim, find a pool that you can go swimming in every day. If you love to bike, bike around your neighborhood. But again, something as simple as 20 to 30 minutes a day of just getting up and moving is really all you need to start.”
Trouble is, most of us aren’t wired to start simple and work toward a realistic goal. If we decide we want to run a few miles a few times a week, most of us simply want to go out and do it – and that can be a recipe for failure.
To avoid that Kevin says, “I would encourage everyone to just be patient. Take it slow if you haven’t been exercising, and it’s something you haven’t done in a year or two years, three years, just take it slow. Start with 20 minutes of walking and even for something like that, do some stretching before you go, even if it’s a simple little calf stretch on the curb. Stretching will help you quickly feel all those immense health gains and keep you safe. A lot of people tend to say, ‘I’m going to start jogging for the first time and I’m going to try to jog 3 miles.’ and they end up hurting their knees, or hurting their back and then it can seem like everything hurts. And we as adults are most likely then going to say, ‘Oh, I’m not gonna do that anymore, I’m gonna go sit back down on the couch.’ So start with something simple that you can accomplish that won’t tax your body to the point where you’ll be hurting for the next two weeks or three weeks.”
If you start simple and small, listen to your body and stay with it, many of those health benefits are just around the corner.
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