Who doesn’t have days where the only thing you want to do is sit on the couch and relax? Everyone needs time to recharge their batteries, but when sitting on the couch becomes a bad habit, you may be doing more damage than you thought possible.
Research shows that being inactive does more than simply make us fat. It negatively affects our cardiovascular health as well. Leading a sedentary lifestyle increases bad cholesterol levels, induces hypertension, and even causes depression. Being a couch potato can also affect your digestive tract, making you more prone to heartburn and other gastrointestinal ailments.
Inactivity causes our bodies to produce more fat cells, which in turn, makes us gain weight. Essentially, it’s the increase in fat cells that often make us feel tired and worn out, even if you’ve slept well. (Be sure to read our related article, “Exercising Between the Ages of 45-64 Can Improve Heart Health.”)
Any type of cardiovascular activity is good for your heart. Even taking short walks can reduce the risk of heart disease. Typically, adults should perform 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days a week. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to hit the ground running. The goal is to get up and do an activity you enjoy.
There are so many types of exercises you can do, which include:
Your current level of activity plays a role when starting a new exercise program. If you’re new to working out, it’s best to take things slow. Regardless of which activity you choose, never push yourself to the point exhaustion. Overexertion will only lead to injury. One way to gradually increase the length of your workouts is to add five-minute increments.
Previous exercise enthusiasts who are re-entering the world of fitness can kick things up a notch, but they still need to proceed with caution. Your body will adapt to the increased activity quickly, but it’s important to take your time and let nature run its course.
According to various studies, the risk of any heart problem or attack during exercise is very low and significantly lower than people who do not exercise.
Being a couch potato affects both your heart and mind. In addition to reducing the number of endorphins your body produces, lack of exercise increases your risk of having a heart attack by 64 percent! The less you move, the higher the risk!. Studies in men have shown that a sedentary lifestyle is more harmful to health than traditional risk factors like smoking and high blood pressure.
If you’re not sure where to start, it’s okay. Getting in shape is a two-part process, which includes a heart-healthy diet and regular physical activity. Instead of plopping down in front of the television after dinner, take a brisk walk around the neighborhood to burn calories. If you have a sedentary job, make a point to get up and stretch your legs every 30 minutes to increase productivity. As humans, we are designed to move. We do our best when we remain active. Breaking bad habits now allows you to enjoy a longer, healthier life for years to come.
If you are more than 45 years of age and have risk factors for heart disease, you should consult a doctor before starting an exercise program.