Spring has arrived in the UK, bringing us longer days, lighter evenings and warmer temperatures (we hope). Therefore Spring time is a great time to re-examine our habits and make some healthy choices – a much better time than New Year, I believe. As well as making changes to the foods we eat, we can also consider making changes to our activity levels, since regular activity is known to make our lives healthier and happier.
So can you imagine springing up from the couch and throwing off your winter blanket? I have already dug my sports gear out of a box at the bottom of my wardrobe and been for a run (in truth, a rather slow trot) this week. And to my surprise I enjoyed it…though some muscles did scream their protest later in the day. I was glad to have taken the opportunity to go outside and DO SOMETHING rather than spend that hour in front of my computer. I don’t like to pay to go to a gym so I decided to run a few laps of the local football pitch. I am betting that my fitness will improve if I do the same thing a few times a week.
Just to be clear – to be active you do not need to kit yourself out in lycra and become a gym-bunny. Any activity that increases your heart rate and makes you break into a bit of a sweat counts as activity. That could be walking fast or up a hill (to work or to the shops), pushing a lawn mower, cycling with the children…even using the vacuum cleaner, cleaning the windows, or washing the car. According to Public Health England we should all aim to be active like this for an average of 30 minutes a day…easy enough if your default choice is to walk short journeys or always use the stairs. Taking an evening stroll after dinner is even a viable option now that we can all use catch-up TV to make sure we don’t miss our favourite TV shows.
There are so many benefits to being more active. If you feel tired, it can wake you up. If you have trouble sleeping, it may help you to sleep better. If you get short of breath easily, it can improve your fitness. If you are feeling down, it can perk you up. If you tend to suffer aches and pains, activity can alleviate these (always check with your doctor before making significant changes to your activity habits).
If you are still not convinced, all I can suggest is that you think of something that you like to do and which you can fit into your schedule (just three 10 minutes bursts of activity is enough). Oh, and turn off the TV – you can watch that show on iPlayer later.