This year, more than ever, staying active is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
"The general recommendation is to aim for 30 minutes of physical activity, five days per week. But between work and families, many women aren't able to carve out that time for themselves," said Melissa Mashni, M.D., Family Practice Physician, Cherry Health, who notes finding ways to move throughout the day doesn't necessarily mean specific exercise time.
"Any movement counts, whether it's getting up from your desk and walking for a couple minutes every hour, parking farther from the store entrance, or running after the kids."
Though finding balance can be difficult, Natasha Peoples, NP-C, NCMP, Nurse Practitioner with Midlife, Menopause & Sexual Health and APP Lead for the Gynecology Division of Women's Health, Spectrum Health, recommends talking with your primary care provider to see if they have any precautions or recommendations for you.
"Whenever you make a change or start something new, listen to your body," Peoples said, stressing the importance of determining your "why," finding joy in exercise, and planning ahead. "Most women have at least one old injury or ache that nags at them. If you're taking part in a new activity and develop new or worsening pain, ease off and get it checked out by your healthcare provider."
Need help getting your active lifestyle started? Peoples shares three recommendations:
1. Find a workout partner or group. Your significant other, best friend or a neighbor can make a great accountability buddy if you're both on board. Start a contest at work or join a challenge at a local gym or online group.
2. Track your progress. Writing down or logging your activity, weight, calories, steps or miles is helpful for monitoring improvement over time. Apps like My Fitness Pal and Lose It provide easy options. We all fall off the bandwagon from time to time and it can be frustrating to lose ground. But remember: You're in this for the long run.
3. Tell your loved ones. Starting or increasing an exercise routine will have some impact on your daily schedule. If your partner or kids know why you're carving a little time out for yourself, they're more likely to help and may even join in!
"Physical activity has so many benefits: It decreases risk of heart attack and stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, some cancers, and dementia, and improves bone health, mental health, sleep quality, and overall quality of life," added Haley Zimmer, M.D., Internal Medicine, Metro Health – University of Michigan Health.
"Women should give themselves permission to make taking care of themselves a priority! You can't be your best for your family, friends and co-workers if you're not taking time for you."
Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for West Michigan Woman.
This article originally appeared in the Oct/Nov 2020 issue of West Michigan Woman.