This blog post was written by NYPBeHealthy Wellbeing Coach Maria Biondi, RDN, CDN.
A lot of people want to be healthy; however, finding a good place to start may seem challenging. Adding just a few more steps into your day can be beneficial for the body as well as the mind. It can also become something people look forward to rather than feeling it is a chore or obligation.
1. Physical Health: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity. You can choose some days of moderate activity and some days with more vigorous activity. Examples of moderate exercise include brisk walking, gardening, or leisurely biking. Vigorous exercise usually makes you sweat, such as running, swimming laps, or jumping rope. Exercise has been linked to lots of health benefits, such as a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and several types of cancer. It may help control blood sugars and improve overall sleep. Some studies have even linked exercise to reducing joint pain. My recommendation: Start small. You can try tracking your current activity level with a smartphone or fitness tracker. Once you know your current average, try tacking on an extra 1,000 steps until that step goal becomes your average; then increase again until that goal is reached.
2. Mental Health: According to a recent study published in January 2019, any kind of movement can contribute to reducing the risk of depression. Karmel Choi, a clinical and research fellow, noted that even replacing 15 minutes of sitting with 15 minutes of walking, stretching, or taking the stairs could improve mood. It may also help reduce anxiety and tension by releasing mood-boosting endorphins to the brain. You can try a relaxing form of adding steps into your day, such as yoga or a meditative walk.
3. Adding Steps Can Be Creative And Fun: Adding more steps into your day does not need to be monotonous or something you set aside specific time for. Make it a part of your routine. Consider opting for the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, setting a reminder to walk in place every 30-60 minutes at your desk, or parking farther when heading to work or shopping. You can make it a social activity like signing up for a salsa class with friends, starting a lunchtime or evening walking group, or participating in a team intramural sport. Start by deciding your favorite type of movement (i.e., walking, swimming, dancing, etc.) and focus on how to increase that movement into your week. You may find you are having a lot of fun while you increase your daily step count!
NewYork-Presbyterian Queens, located in Flushing, New York, is a community teaching hospital affiliated with Weill Cornell Medicine, serving Queens and metro New York residents. The 535-bed tertiary care facility provides services in 14 clinical departments and numerous subspecialties. For more information, visit nyp.org/queens.