Originally Published: March 30, 2013 9:57 p.m.
You have seen them around town already - the walkers with color-matched tops and sneakers. You have seen the trailheads start to fill up with the hikers and their water bottles. It's exciting - but it can be intimidating. If you don't have a natural born love of exercise, then cultivate a new love. Because exercise is about more than just fitting into flattering clothes.
Regular physical activity improves mood, mental health and quality of life. According to a helpful handout from the Arizona Department of Health Services, people who have a serious mental illness experience better mental health and symptom relief when they are physically active. Similarly, older adults often reduce their depressive systems, risks of a fall, and physical limitations.
Regular physical activity can help you:
Improve mood and memory
Reduce anxiety and depression
Keep you sharp and strong as you age
Decrease risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other illnesses
Reduce weight or maintain a healthy weight
Improve your chances of living longer
If you are intimidated by the idea of buff people sweating in a gym, realize that you can do fun activities within your own comfort zone and still get the exercise you need.
So, what counts as physical activity?
Two hours and 30 minutes every week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (ie, brisk walking, tennis, pushing the lawn mower, bicycling, swimming, hiking, house cleaning);
Muscle-strengthening activities (ie, resistance bands, yoga, digging a garden, or lifting weights) on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
There is no time like the present - get off that couch and get moving, so you can reap both the physical and mental health benefits.
For more information, go to www.azdhs.gov/bhs/qhi.