With summer’s arrival and the days getting warmer and longer, many Americans may be rededicating themselves to getting outside and focusing on their fitness.* This may be especially important after so much time spent inside due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which contributed to unwanted weight gain for 61% of Americans.
“Whether you are ready to return to public fitness centers or are pursuing an at-home workout routine, the same priorities may remain key: daily exercise, proper nutrition and sufficient sleep,” said Dr. Anne Docimo, chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare.
To help with those efforts, here are three health strategies to consider to help make health a priority this summer and year-round.
Round out your home workout routine. While public gyms and group exercise classes may have appeal for many people, working out at home may have several advantages. At-home exercise is typically less expensive than a gym membership, which may also help improve your financial fitness. Exercising at home may provide greater flexibility and convenience when incorporating a workout into a daily routine, while offering a more private experience. To help make the most of your at-home exercise efforts, consider investing in resistance bands, which generally are an inexpensive, space-saving option that may help with pre-workout warmups and options for strength training. A pair of adjustable-weight dumbbells may offer versatility, enabling scalable resistance to help improve your strength. Finally, heart rate monitors or activity trackers may help you evaluate performance during individual workouts and over time.
Make movement a priority. Even if you don’t have a limited or full gym setup at home, it is crucial to still stay active and not fall into the trap of participating only in sedentary activities, such as binge-watching the latest TV series or movies. Consider taking short walks frequently throughout the day, aiming for six separate “mini-walks” of at least 300 to 500 steps. To help enhance cardiovascular fitness, consider at least one 30-minute “brisk walk” of at least 2,000 to 3,000 steps each day. To help build endurance, consider working toward 8,000 to 10,000 aggregate steps per day. Moving more and sitting less may help boost the immune system, ease joint pain and curb cravings for high-sugar foods that may contribute to inflammation and disease.
Identify intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. In general, people may be motivated by a combination of intrinsic factors, such as wanting to maintain a healthy weight, and extrinsic factors, such as financial rewards. Daily exercise may offer several intrinsic motivators, given research has shown consistent movement may help ward off depression and prevent issues like heart disease. To potentially earn incentives for pursuing healthier habits, it’s important to note that a majority of U.S. employers offer well-being programs, many of which include financial rewards for healthy activities such as walking, going to the gym or meeting certain health benchmarks (e.g., cholesterol levels, body mass index or non-nicotine use). Importantly, some health plans offer access to wearable devices that may enable people to earn more than $1,000 per year in financial incentives for meeting certain daily activity goals.
If you need external motivation, this summer you can go to UHCStepUp.com and sign the pledge to make health a priority. This may enable you to become eligible for a chance to win one of more than 100 fitness-related prizes**, while joining golf star Rory McIlroy in breaking a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the most pledges for a health campaign in one month (June 15 – July 15, 2021) and raising $60,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs.
Following these tips may help you swing into summer and make health a priority, while encouraging healthy habits that may eventually translate to meaningful improvements.
* The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be, nor should be construed as, medical advice. Check with your doctor to determine what activity level is right for you.
** Participation in any UnitedHealthcare product or program is not a requirement to participate in the sweepstakes.
Boys & Girls Clubs and Guinness World Records are not sponsors of this promotion.
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 Harvard University, 2016, health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Inflammation_A_unifying_theory_of_disease