When you think of going to the gym to workout, the image of a body builder lifting an insane amount of weights wearing a tank top that is way too small, may come to mind. However, there is more to being physically active and fit than just lifting weights. There are many benefits of a physically active lifestyle. It helps to maintain a healthy weight; decreases your risk of developing certain diseases such as high blood pressure, obesity and type 2 diabetes; reduces your risk of a heart attack, and helps you have stronger bones and muscles.

Many statistics have indicated an increase in the number of Americans who are obese or overweight. According to a study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, identified that 36.9% of the US population is obese. This is equates to approximately 70 million adults. (Please note, this figure does not include children under the age of 18). These numbers vary depending on different factors such as lifestyle and where you live. Data collected by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) in 2019 showed that Mississippi and West Virginia have the highest rates of obesity at 39%, while Florida has the lowest at 23%. Being physically active allows you a chance to NOT be part of these statistics.

As we age, being physical active not only becomes a necessity, but an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Doing exercises may not seem important but your body will thank you later in the years to come. It is also a component of healthy aging. As we get older, there are certain diseases we are more inclined to get. Osteoporosis (the weakening of bones) can become a problem with age. Exercises like taking a brisk walk can help ease pain on the bones. Physical activity can help maintain your independence- so that you can age in place (at home) longer. It also boosts your energy thus increasing flexibility and mobility. Exercise can improve your mood and cognitive function- which helps with memory.

Exercising doesn’t have to be hard. There are simple things you can do that naturally incorporates physical activity into your day. Go for a walk around the block when you want to clear your head. Why not get some exercise and fresh air at the same time! Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get off the bus a stop or two earlier, park your car a little further than usual to get a few extra steps in. Walking 10,000 steps per day, can help you burn calories and lose weight. You can buy a Fitbit or a pedometer to help you count and keep track of how many steps you take each day. Looking for a way to try a new workout plan or new exercises, you can download a number of apps such as SilverSneakers Go, FitOn and PITT28. Looking to check out a new fitness or dance studio, check out classes on platforms such as ClassPass, PeerFit, GymPass or Mindbody.

You will see more opportunities to be more active if you start looking for them. Add few more steps each day. Remember that every single steps counts. It takes small steps to create a milestone; it takes one good action to change the world. Start small, and as time goes by, your body will adjust. Understand that wellness is a journey and this is just part of it. You can always start anytime.

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