Guaranteed to help your health

Published 8:27 pm Saturday, September 20, 2014

With the Healthy People Healthy Suffolk organization inspiring people in the city to participate in a Million Steps Challenge against their sister-city counterparts in Suffolk, England, and as the city prepares for another 5K run/walk event on Oct. 4, it’s an appropriate time to consider some simple steps toward a healthier lifestyle.

The National Institutes of Health offers these suggestions:

  • Be as active as possible. Regular physical activity and exercise are important to the physical and mental health of everyone, including older adults. Staying physically active and exercising regularly can produce long-term health benefits and even improve health for some older people who already have diseases and disabilities.
  • Being inactive can be risky. Some are afraid that exercise will be too hard or that physical activity will harm them. Others might think they have to join a gym or have special equipment. Yet, studies show that “taking it easy” is risky. For the most part, when older people lose their ability to do things on their own, it doesn’t happen just because they’ve aged. It’s usually because they’re not active.
  • Prevent or delay disease. Scientists have found that staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities. In some cases, exercise is an effective treatment for many chronic conditions. For example, studies show that people with arthritis, heart disease or diabetes benefit from regular exercise. Exercise also helps people with high blood pressure, balance problems or difficulty walking.
  • Manage stress and improve your mood. Regular, moderate physical activity can help manage stress and improve your mood. And being active on a regular basis may help reduce feelings of depression. Studies also suggest that exercise can improve or maintain some aspects of cognitive function, such as your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity and ignore irrelevant information.
  • Physical activity or exercise? Some people may wonder what the difference is between physical activity and exercise. Physical activities are activities that get your body moving, such as gardening, walking the dog and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise is a form of physical activity that is specifically planned, structured and repetitive, such as weight training, tai chi or an aerobics class. Including both in your life will provide you with health benefits that can help you feel better and enjoy life more as you age.

These simple steps will not necessarily take care of every health problem you might have, but they will get you on your way to a healthier life, and they’re guaranteed to make you feel better.

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