The Active Lifestyle’s Impact on Health

There is growing evidence that being physically active can have a profound impact on our health and well-being. Even something as simple as walking daily can have significant positive health impacts: reducing the risk for dementia, heart conditions, chronic disease while boosting mood, mental health, and creativity[1]. Many office workers are also making the change to standing vs sitting following studies which show a reduction in the risk of obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes by reducing long periods of sitting[2]. The recent trend of pickleball has reignited interest in research which shows that racquet sports unique combination of physical and mental training can make them ideal for promoting lasting health and longevity[3].

How an Active Lifestyle Increases Longevity and Quality of Life

A study published in the journal The Lancet in 2016 found that people who were physically active lived an average of 3.4 years longer than those who were not physically active. The study also found that physical activity was associated with a lower risk of death from all causes, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, and respiratory diseases.

The study’s authors concluded that “physical activity is one of the most effective ways to improve health and longevity. {And that} the benefits of physical activity are not limited to older adults, but extend to people of all ages.”[4]

Some benefits commonly seen from prioritizing an active lifestyle include:

 Reduced risk of chronic diseases. Exercise can help lower your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and other chronic conditions.

  • Maintained healthy weight. Exercise helps you burn calories and build muscle, both of which are important for weight management.
  • Improved mood and mental health. Exercise can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also boost your self-esteem and energy levels.
  • Increased lifespan. Studies have shown that people who are physically active tend to live longer than those who are not. And with improved health markers, this increase is welcomed.
  • Promoting social activity. Building and maintaining strong social connections is a leading predictor of happiness and longevity.

We often say we want to live forever, but do we really want that without quality of life? To make the most of our golden years, we need to prioritize an active lifestyle throughout our years to see the real value of extended our lifespan.

Proactive Steps Towards an Active Lifestyle

 For those who have not yet adopted an active lifestyle, it’s important to remember to set realistic goals. Don’t try to do too much too soon. Start with small goals and establish your baseline goal as the minimum you can accomplish without time or motivation constraints. As you get fitter or create more time, you can gradually increase the intensity and duration of your planned activity.

Here are some additional tips for encouraging a more active lifestyle:

  • Find an activity that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy your workout, you’re less likely to stick with it. There are many different types of exercise, so find something that you find fun and challenging.
  • Make exercise a part of your routine. Schedule time for exercise in your day just like you would any other appointment. This will help you stay on track and make it more likely that you’ll actually do it.
  • Find a workout buddy. Exercising with a friend or family member can help you stay motivated and accountable.
  • Reward yourself. When you reach a fitness goal, reward yourself with something that you enjoy. This will help you stay motivated and on track.

Making healthy lifestyle changes can be challenging, but it’s worth it for your health. There are many ways to incorporate more activity into your life without doing a complete 180. If you’re not ready to join a gym or take a fitness class, simply go for walks or bike rides. You can also make small changes to your daily routine, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further away from your destination.

Support for Your Active Lifestyle

 No matter how small, change can still be hard, especially when related to daily habits. Anything that disrupts what’s normal or routine can be challenging, so it’s acceptable and recommended that you find support for your new goals. There are many programs and partners that can help encourage positive lifestyle changes, including:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a variety of resources to help people become more active, including the Steps Count Up program and the Active Adults website.
  • The American Heart Association has a number of programs and resources to help people reduce their risk of heart disease, including the My Heart. My Life. program and the Heart Walk event.
  • The American Diabetes Association offers a variety of programs and resources to help people manage their diabetes, including the MyPlate program and the National Diabetes Prevention Program.
  • Local community groups can offer the peer support and accountability that just may be the missing piece in your journey. Finding like-minded people, who can not only empathize with your struggles, but help you celebrate your successes, is more powerful than you realize.

These programs and partners can provide you with the support and resources you need to make healthy lifestyle changes. They can also help you connect with other people who are on the same journey as you.

If you’re ready to make a change, visit the websites of these organizations or look for community groups with shared goals or interests. You should also consult with your doctor to discuss which steps are appropriate for your current activity level and how to access specific programs and resources that are available.

INcrease Motivation for an Active Lifestyle with Health Wearables and Fitness Trackers

Despite health benefits and support, dedication towards an active lifestyle may fall away from priority status. One solution is to monitor your efforts and record your results. Progress is an incredible motivator. It can provide feedback and assessment on current efforts and can provide insights on whether to continue as-is or make some new changes. Wearable health and fitness trackers can be a great way to track your activity levels and stay motivated. These devices can track your steps, distance, calories burned, heart rate, and more. You can use this data to track your progress, help set new goals, or even set up friendly competitions with friends and family.  

If you’re not used to being active, it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase the amount of exercise you do. You should also talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have any health conditions.

11TEN’s Support of Active Lifestyles in Healthcare

The 11TEN team has worked closely with partners on initiatives that support an active lifestyle within their organization. We have highlighted a few examples below:

  • We partnered with Novo Nordisk to create and deliver an educational program for Atlanta-based employer leaders to share perspectives on the science of obesity and potential strategies and solutions to support employee weight management. The program included nationally preeminent clinicians and leaders at local health systems who are focused on impacting community health through a lens of healthy lifestyles, health equity, and community-based
  • We believe in practicing what we preach and promoting an active lifestyle amongst our team is one of our core values. We recently participated in the Pancreatic Cancer Walk, in honor of our late Co-Founder Kevin O’Connor, which focused on raising funding and awareness for research to combat the disease and support those affected.

These initiatives have sourced and vetted plans that promote physical activity in the workforce with ease of access and a diverse offering of resources. If your organization is ready to proactively promote an active lifestyle for the benefit of your internal team, contact 11TEN today. We would enjoy the opportunity to develop a custom solution that’s catered to your specific needs.