Remember when you used to run up and down the stairs without a second thought? How about when you used to walk for hours around the county fair, not once feeling like you might collapse if you didn’t find a place to sit down in the next five minutes? Somehow, the older we get, the less active we become. As the carefree days of our youth fade into memories, our busy adult lives leave little time for the joys of active outdoor play. Eventually, climbing the stairs becomes a chore, and staying home to watch a movie is more appealing than standing in line for an hour to ride the tilt-a-whirl. Millions of people in the United States are not participating in physical activity at all. You’ve got to get moving if you want to live a longer and healthier life.

Sitting still will kill you. Sedentary behavior puts people at risk for cardiovascular disease, some cancers, increased cancer mortality, type 2 diabetes, and premature death. Sedentary behavior also puts you at an increased risk for clinical depression. Perhaps you have noticed your metabolism slowing down as you grow older, making it a lot harder to shed those extra pounds than it used to be. Chances are your metabolism is fine, and the real problem is that you’re not moving enough.

To get moving, you don’t need to buy a treadmill or join a gym. Just trade thirty minutes of sedentary time for thirty minutes of moderate non-exercise physical activity (NEPA). There are a variety of low-intensity activities that you can enjoy doing every day that will increase your muscle strength, keep your joints flexible, and improve your stamina. You can start a garden, or mop your kitchen floor on your hands and knees. Walk to the store, take the stairs, ride a bike to work, mow the lawn, rake leaves, or shovel snow.

It can be harder for some older adults to keep up a regimen of regular daily exercise, but most people can easily work NEPA into their daily routines, and the benefits are marvelous. You will reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, enjoy weight loss, lower your blood pressure, and add years to your life. And if you’re someone who normally exercises, NEPA can be a terrific supplement to your regular routine.

Generally speaking, active people enjoy cardiovascular health, are less likely to be depressed, and live longer lives. Whether you exercise regularly or not, non-exercise physical activity is a beneficial way to maintain an active lifestyle as you grow older.

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