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How much do we really need to do to stay healthy?

If you’re like many Americans, you lead a fast paced lifestyle, driving around a caravan of kids to sports and dance practices after a full day at work.  After cooking dinner and helping with a pile of homework, sometimes it’s enough just to hop into sweatpants and slide onto the sofa for an hour of downtime before we press the repeat button and do it all again.  Keeping yourself healthy through exercise may just be a distant fantasy.  And, for some, swinging through the drive-thru seems so much easier than breaking out the pots and pans. Sometimes, you feel like you’ve run a marathon or lived on a treadmill. The good news is you don’t have to spend hours sweating at the gym (although kudos if you can!) to reap benefits that will impact long-term health.  Even if you’re busy, adding a few small changes to your daily routine, you can enhance your overall health, and also look and feel better.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 80% of American adults don’t get the recommended amount of exercise, and that inactivity is linked to more than 5 million deaths worldwide per year. That’s more than those caused by smoking. According to the CDC, adults between 18 and 65 years of age need two hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week and muscle strengthening activities on two or more days per week. For more detailed information, visit: http://1.usa.gov/1dIavyY. While it may seem like a daunting task, forgetting the all or nothing mentality and splitting up exercise into short ten minute bursts may help to make goals more achievable. Adding just ten minutes of exercise per day can strengthen your immune system, lift your mood, burn excess calories, and promote good blood flow.

Activities like taking the dog on an evening stroll or playing hopscotch with the kids can help your cardio quota. For strength training, try using resistance bands. At work, opting for the stairs instead of taking the elevator can be a great addition to a healthy routine and a more active lifestyle. Researchers also recommend treating your ten minute workouts as you would a longer session, by taking a few minutes to warm up with stretches and ending with a cool down after engaging in medium intensity activity. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout your day, which helps promote optimal body function and cleanse out toxins.

Combining these small changes and incorporating healthy eating habits can put you on the path to good health-and keep you there. Try swapping out a few soft drinks for water or switching one refined grain, like white rice for a whole grain, like brown rice. Keeping a clear container of cut up fruit and veggies in the fridge will help you make a smart choice when reaching for a fast snack.  To incorporate more vegetables into your entire family’s diet, try adding shredded carrots or zucchini into baked goods or sauces. Adding fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates to your diet have numerous health benefits such as, decreasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and bone loss.  A well-balanced diet can also prevent some forms of cancer. To learn more about making healthy eating choices for you and your family, visit: http://1.usa.gov/1gKhk39.

Like most things in life, a healthy lifestyle is an ever-evolving process that is improved with consistency and a positive outlook. By taking small steps now, you’re making huge leaps towards the future of your health.

We invite you to contact SCPT for more information on improving your health at: 508-832-2628.

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