Daily exercise is low on the priority list for many individuals. It can be because of lack of time or initiative. They know they should get more, but for some people it’s hard to get excited about sweating. Modern lifestyles have also made it easy to forego calorie burning movement. Millions of individuals work in offices, or at jobs that don’t require physical exertion, so it’s no wonder waistlines are expanding. Human beings are out of shape more than ever before. It’s a huge problem that affects every race, socioeconomic status, and age group.

Individuals weren’t as sedentary centuries ago. They walked for miles to get to a job, school, or to buy the staples needed to survive. In fact, daily movement was something that wasn’t even thought about as individuals went about their daily business. Children and teenagers didn’t sit in front of computers or televisions for countless hours every week. Those things didn’t exist. Not only was the populace in better physical shape, but diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, congestive heart failure, and even gallstones weren’t as prevalent as they are today.

Fortunately, improving physical fitness doesn’t require a membership to a gym. Spending hours walking on a treadmill or taking an aerobics class isn’t necessary. The reality is small changes in someone’s daily routine can help him or her reap huge health rewards. For example, individuals can choose to park further from their places of employment.  In addition, they can use the stairs in their buildings instead of using elevators or escalators. Taking a fifteen or twenty minute walk during lunch breaks helps people stretch their legs. It also gets their heart rates up.

Drive-thru windows are an incredible convenience. Utilizing them occasionally is fine. After all, if someone’s in a rush, he or she might need to conserve time. However, using them every time someone goes to buy his or her meals will only encourage inertia. Taking the time to park, getting out of the car, and walking into the restaurant will add up to calories burned. When out on shopping errands, the further someone parks means the further he or she will have to walk to get to the store. If an individual likes to look for bargains, visiting big-box stores such as Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club, or Costco can keep him or her moving down the aisles for hours.

Maintaining a home’s outdoor spaces, especially during warm weather months, can give individuals an excellent opportunity to improve their physical condition. Engaging in activities such as gardening, mowing the grass, trimming trees or bushes, and raking leaves can burn a significant amount of calories. It can also tone arms and legs. For dog owners, taking a brisk half-hour walk with their four-legged family member will benefit both of them by getting their hearts pumping. If possible, individuals should shovel snow in winter instead of paying the kid down the street to do it. Remembering to lift with the legs, instead of the back, will protect the back from any injury.

Since healthy habits are learned, being physically fit should start at a young age. All parents should encourage kids to go outside to play on nice days. By explaining how important it is to be active, it keeps them from turning into couch potatoes. Activities like riding bikes, playing tag, jumping rope, kickball, hopscotch, skating, or swimming can be enjoyed by children of all ages. By visiting parks with walking trails, parents can enjoy quality time with their children. Exploring nature at the same time is also an added benefit.

Getting children involved in organized sports such as soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball, lacrosse, or touch football gets them the exercise their growing bodies need. Parents can show their support, and improve their children’s skills, by shooting hoops with them, kicking soccer balls around, or playing catch. Some children prefer not to participate in team sports and there’s no reason to force them. There are numerous other alternatives. Ice skating, gymnastics, dance or karate lessons, and playing tennis will help kids burn off energy.

Studies have shown, and doctors have warned patients, being sedentary makes a slew of health conditions worse over time. Is that knowledge enough to get individuals to change their lifestyles? Will parents make the decision to set a good example for their children by incorporating more physical activity into their lives? Will they force their children to go outside and play by limiting the time they engage in inactive activities such as watching television, playing video games, or surfing the web?

Unfortunately, some people only hear the wake-up call to incorporate activity into their lives, and the lives of their children, after they or someone they love has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition. No one should wait until he or she is forced to change. Adding extra activity to a daily routine can build muscle and boost a person’s metabolism. The results are more calories burned even when the person is at rest. The added benefit of teaching children by example can hopefully inspire those same children to keep up active lives for their entire lives.

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