You Can Babystep Your Way to Better Health

by | Jun 18, 2020 | Diet & Nutrition, Healthy lifestyle

picture of hiking sign from parkWhat’s an all-natural and inexpensive way to improve your physical and mental health, lower your risk of gum disease, diabetes, and chronic inflammation, and give you a better chance at a longer and happier life?

If an easy answer sounds too good to be true, brace yourself. It’s exercise. 

Of course, you already know exercise is great for you, but what’s making headlines now is more evidence that even as little as 10 minutes of moderate exercise each day may make a big difference for heart health, even if you’re overweight or obese. 

And the impact of those 10 minutes is downright impressive.

  • Obese adults who exercised even a short amount of time reduced their risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 34%. 
  • Overweight adults who exercised any amount had a 47% lower risk of CVD.
  • Normal weight adults who exercised any amount reduced their chance of CVD by a whopping 60%.

Plenty of research has explored physical activity’s benefits on cardiovascular health, but according to the authors, none have identified how results might vary by body weight. 

The study had a big sample size, too. The data came from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and included more than 22,000 people ages 30 to 64 over a 10-year period (2007 – 2016). None of the participants had yet developed CVD, and about a third were overweight, a third were obese, and a third fell into the normal range. 

group taking exercise class in poolThis reflects current weight trends in the US, where 2 out of 3 adults are overweight or obese. The rates are even a little bit higher here in Texas and continue to rise. 

But no matter where your own weight falls, the good news is that with exercise, you can improve far more than just your heart health. For instance, exercise may lower your risk of gum disease. It can also help your body better assimilate nutrients, improve your mental health, and support healthy immune function. 

And while these results are more likely if you exercise the recommended minimum of 150 weekly minutes of moderate-intensity activity – 30 minutes a day for 5 days each week – any amount of movement is better than sitting still. 

Plus there are so many exercise options to suit both your interests and your budget. From a low-impact pool session at the local Y to an at-home online yoga class or moderate-intensity dance routine that you can do from the comfort of your living room, your options are many. Just remember if you have underlying health conditions or haven’t exercised in a long time, you may want to check with your doctor first

If a daily walk is the ticket for you, but you’re concerned about social distancing and infection control right now, know that Arlington Parks & Rec has plenty of helpful safety info on their website, as does the Parks Mall at Arlington

Then it’s just one step at a time to put you on the path for maintaining or reclaiming your oral and overall health!

Image by Tommie Horton, USAF

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