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Since March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic, there has been a massive decline in physical activity worldwide. Stay-at-home policies, gym closures, and reduced access to outdoor sport facilities has interrupted our physical activity routines. These restrictions have not only reduced the time spent formally exercising, but also the amount of time spent moving about on non-exercise related tasks, such as walking to our car, around the office, or to the grocery store. Living in a society where almost everything can be accessed through the click of a button requires us to be more intentional with scheduling exercise into our day, and to create new routines and habits that encourage more daily movement.

Being physically active helps us feel better, sleep better, and function better, and these benefits are immediately available to us. A single bout of moderate-to-vigorous exercise can reduce blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, improve sleep quality and quantity, reduce anxiety symptoms, and improve cognition on the day that it is performed. Other benefits, such as strengthening our immune system and disease risk reduction, are seen within days to weeks after adopting a new physical activity routine. The amount of exercise generally recommended is 150-300 minutes per week, or 10, 000 steps per day. A recent study, however, has shown that major health benefits can be achieved with the addition of just 1000 extra steps per day. These extra steps can come from walking, and/or activities performed around the house such as gardening and house cleaning.

As the weather continues to warm up this month, there is no better time than now to increase our daily level of physical activity! Consider tracking your steps to get a baseline, and then set a goal of achieving just 1000 more steps per day. If you don’t have a step counter, this is equivalent to approximately 10 minutes of walking. If you’re looking to boost your energy, focus and concentration for the day, start adding some movement to your morning routine. If you’re in need of a wind-down ritual, consider going for an evening stroll after dinner. While it is all too easy to come up with reasons why we can’t, I challenge you to switch your thinking and come up with solutions of how you can. Your body and mind will thank you for it!

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7305604/

https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/PAG_Advisory_Committee_Report.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7797716/

https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M20-2665