(11/30/12) - According to the American Heart Association, studies show that for every one hour of regular vigorous exercise, you could gain two more hours of life expectancy. On the other hand, it was cited in BMJ Open, July 2012, that sitting more than three hours a day can cut a person's life expectancy by two full years.
"Eating healthy, losing weight and staying or becoming active is a battle that millions of Americans struggle with everyday. Lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes have a significant relationship with overweight and obesity in addition to an inactive lifestyle," said Dr. Alto Odin, Dillon Internal Medicine. Each year 1.2 million Americans suffer a heart attack. Cardiovascular disease and stroke continue to be our nation’s No. 1 and 3 killers. More physical activity is one of the things that can help improve these statistics.
"An individual should engage in regular physical activity for at least 30 minutes five or more days per week. Regular moderate physical activity, such as a brisk, 30-minute walk each day, delivers many rewards," said Dr. Odin, "such as reducing the risk of dying from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers, such as breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, and kidney." According to the American Cancer Society, about one-third of cancer deaths could be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular physical activity, and adopting healthy eating habits.
"In addition," added Dr. Odin, "it reduces the feelings of depression and anxiety, appears to improve mood, helps control weight, and helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints."
Dr. Odin suggested, "Rather than having general goals like 'getting in shape' or 'exercising more,' choose concrete goals, such as walking 30 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and doing stretching exercises five minutes each morning. The more variety you have, the more likely you will continue. A well-rounded exercise program should include aerobic exercise, strength training using weights, and flexibility exercises – even when performed regularly in small increments.
"It helps to build a support system of family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors that can help keep you motivated and participated with you," said Dr. Odin. "Also, for those trying to make changes in their eating and exercise habits, writing down and tracking food intake and physical activity is an effective tool to help change these habits."
"Walking is one of the simplest activities to incorporate into one's daily life," said Dr. Odin. "Walking 10,000 steps a day is equal to walking about five miles. Getting to 10,000 steps requires some effort. Set a goal of 4,000 steps per day, and gradually increase your steps every day until you reach 10,000."
Visit the American Cancer Society at cancer.org/healthy for diet and fitness tools to help you calculate a healthy lifestyle and to help you stay well.
To help combat the growing rise of physical inactivity, the American Heart Association is teaming up with corporate America to get employees moving by launching Start!, a new national movement that encourages all Americans and their employers to live longer, stronger lives through a comprehensive walking and nutrition program. The focus of the campaign is simple: Walk more. Eat well. Live longer. To get all the tools and information you need to Start! walking and stay heart healthy, visit americanheart.org/start or call 1-800-AHA-USA1.
For more information on this and many other topics, visit www.McLeodHealth.org.