Remember to Be Active with 6 Easy Letters: BE SAFE

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What are the benefits of being active?

The positive impact of physical activity on health cannot be emphasized enough. There is strong evidence that exercise lowers risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and colon and breast cancer. It can also reduce depression, prevent falls, aid weight loss and weight maintenance, and improve cognitive function in older adults. Are you sold?

How much physical activity do I need?

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends that adults get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week. Some examples of moderate activities include walking briskly, water aerobics, biking on level ground, baseball, and general gardening. If you’re in a time crunch, you can trade up to more vigorous activities and aim for a minimum of 1 hour and 15 minutes each week. Examples of vigorous activities include swimming laps, jogging or running, hiking uphill, basketball, and heavy gardening. Aim to be active at least 3 days a week and spread the activities throughout the week.

Don’t forget to include strength training on at least 2 days a week that targets all the major muscle groups: arms, shoulders, abdomen, chest, back, hips, and legs. You can lift weights the good old fashioned way (aim for at least 8 to 12 reps per muscle group), or try using your body weight for resistance as you would in an active yoga class (take a look at chaturanga dandasana, and you’ll quickly see why yoga builds muscles in addition to stretching them).

“BE SAFE” to be active!

Following is a real life example of how Dr. Caroline Musselwhite, a busy author and lecturer, finds time to meet her physical activity goals despite her full schedule with the use of a clever acronym: BE SAFE.

I’m working on my activity mantra: BE SAFE – trying to do these every week. Water aerobics is definitely helping!

B = balance
E = exercise (outside!)
S = strength
A = aerobics
F = flexibility
E = eat something yummy (and healthy-ish!) cuz you’ve worked so hard

A few notes:

Balance: I find that waiting in lines for the restroom on an airplane is a great opportunity for practicing balance!

Exercise: There’s just something about exercising outdoors (walking, hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking) that is WAY more fun than indoors!

Strength: Free weights are good, but I really love exercising in the water and using resistance.

Aerobics: I love doing interval training to up my heartbeat.

Flexibility: I find that it’s fun to sneak in some stretches while waiting in line at the grocery store, bank, etc.

Eat: Okay, the eating isn’t ALWAYS healthy . . . or even -ish!

Caroline’s Bio:

Dr Caroline Musslewhite
Dr. Musselwhite is an author and lecturer working with students who have significant disabilities. She gives talks throughout the world on the topics of communication and literacy for students who are nonspeaking. In addition to loving travel, she enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren, who live in New York City and Oregon. She is also an obsessed knitter and walker!

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