Robbinsville, NJ -Have you lost sight of your New Year's resolution to be healthier in 2014? March not only marks the start of Spring, but is also designated as National Nutrition Month. Along with good nutrition, it is important to stay active to keep your heart and body healthy. The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days to help prevent heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 4 killers of all Americans. Finding time to work out might seem impossible, but the health benefits are worth it.
With Spring in sight, tiny tweaks to your daily routine can help get your heart healthier (and also get you ready for bathing suit season!). The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association offer the following ten heart-healthy habits to help put a little 'spring' in your step:
1) Take the Stairs-This may be one of the easiest ways to sneak in exercise throughout the day. Instead of taking the elevator to your office, opt for the stairs. If you work on a high floor, take the elevator half way and walk the rest. It might seem insignificant, but those 5-7 minutes really do add up.
2) Park & Walk-Any time you drive somewhere, park the car at the farthest end of the parking lot and walk to your destination. Just like taking the stairs, the 5-7 minutes of walking to and from your car can add up to great health benefits.
3) Skip Dessert & Take a Walk-Not only will you be skipping out on sugar, fat, and extra calories, but walking is an easy and free workout that can bring the whole family together. Studies have also shown that for every hour of walking, your life expectancy may increase by up to two hours.
4) Walk at Work-Use break time to take a walk. Not only will you be fitting in 15 minutes of exercise, but getting away from your desk can help you recharge. If you're really ambitious, cut your lunch break in half and walk after you eat.
5) Clean Your House-House work might not be your favorite way to spend time, but it needs to be done. Instead of hiring an outside team to do your chores, use the time to burn some calories and get your house in order. Another tip: try setting a time limit to get everything done-not only will your chores be over faster, but you'll have a tendency to work faster which could lead to getting your heart rate up to help burn more calories.
6) Get Outside & Do Yard Work-Just like house work, don't contract out your yard work. Save money and sneak in exercise by cleaning up your yard. Mowing the lawn, gardening, and raking leaves all count as physical activity. As an extra bonus, your house will have great curb appeal!
7) Get off the Couch-There's nothing wrong with catching up on your favorite TV shows, but fight your inner couch potato and get off the couch! Instead of sitting and watching TV for 30 minutes, use the time to exercise. Use the treadmill or elliptical at the gym or do floor exercises, such as crunches, squats, push-ups, and lunges while watching TV. Not into spending the whole 30 minutes moving? Start off utilizing the few minutes of commercials-challenge yourself to do continuous sit-ups for the first round of commercials, leg lifts throughout the second round and end with stretching for the last round of commercials.
8) Find a Workout Buddy-Working out with a friend can make exercise more enjoyable and can hold you accountable. Find an activity that you both enjoy and make time to do it. Whether you walk at the local park, do circuits at the gym, or sign up for an aerobics class, you can socialize and exercise with a friend.
9) Bring Back Playtime-As an adult, it might seem silly to have a designated "playtime," but in order to keep up with working out you need to have fun. If you have kids, join them in a game of tag or catch. If you don't have kids, call some friends and start a pick-up game at the local park. You can also look for local recreational team sports in your area.
10) Boogie Down on the Weekends- Instead of having date night at a restaurant or drinks at a bar, have a night out at the local dance hall. Dancing is a great way to burn calories and get in shape. Plus it's a fun way to get out and be social with your special someone or your best friends.
For more easy tips to get active, visit www.heart.org/physicalactivity.