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Squeezing in exercise is an investment in future health

| Monday, Oct. 10, 2016, 7:51 p.m.

If you feel like you're not as active as you used to be, you're probably right. Many of us grew up being pushed out the door to play until the streetlights came on. Then came TV and the Internet, and we're all sitting a lot more than we should. Is being sedentary really as bad as smoking? According to some research , it could be.

Sitting for more than four hours every day, which, let's face it, most of us do during an eight-hour workday, has a negative effect on our cardiovascular system.

So what should we do? The World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many other international agencies recommend physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

Now, you're thinking, how could anyone fit that into a busy schedule? Here are five simple things that you can do on a daily basis, by yourself or with a friend, without a gym or equipment.

1. Make your lunch and walk somewhere to eat it! If you are going to hit that 30-minute mark, all you need is your watch or your smartphone. Fifteen minutes each way is not that far.

2. Set a reminder on your Outlook calendar or smartphone to remind you to get up and move around every hour. When we sit still, our muscles fatigue from maintaining one posture and this can lead to repetitive strain injuries. The more you move those muscles, the less discomfort you will have.

3. Drink water, at least eight glasses a day. Whether you're at work or work from home, use a bathroom that is farther away for added cardiovascular benefits.

4. Buddy up. Find an accountability partner, someone with the same goal as you, to move more and feel better. Let's face it, it is tough to do this kind of thing alone. That person can work with you, be a virtual partner on social media, text you, whatever works for you. Just having someone to say, “Hey, did you do your walk yet?” helps keep you motivated.

5. Plan ahead. If you schedule the time, you will have the time. That means being proactive. Put it on your calendar, and be specific about what it will be. You don't have to go to the gym. There are tons of online routines and apps that you can access from just about anywhere.

The benefits of moving are so staggering that each of us should commit to our 30 minutes a day. There are a lot of vitamins and drugs that claim to boost mental clarity, increased energy, decreased joint pain, calorie burn, etc. But you can get those benefits absolutely free just by moving. If cost is what motivates you, remember that health care is expensive and good health is an investment in your future. If you're sick or injured and can't work, it can have a long-term impact on your financial health, too. Invest in your future now by taking good care of yourself.

The human body was created to move, to interact with its surroundings and the people in it. So don't fight it!

Nuket Curran has been a physical therapist for nearly 20 years and a health-care educator for more than a decade. Her physical therapy and fitness practice, Fightin' Fit, offers customized physical therapy and fitness programs, online and in person, to help people live healthier lives through weight loss, injury rehabilitation and prevention. Reach her at Dr.nuket.curran@gmail.com.

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