Spring is a time for renewal, fresh starts, and new growth, and Vermont is finally starting to thaw out! For those of us who find ourselves spending more time inside during the winter, springtime provides a perfect opportunity to get outside, get some sunlight, and get more active. Research shows that people who get up and move throughout the day, even a little, tend to be happier than people who are more sedentary.
What counts as exercise?
Many of us think of exercise as going for a run or hitting the gym, but there are other ways to get our hearts beating and build muscle! Walking, dancing, or climbing the stairs to work all count as forms of exercise, as do more day-to-day tasks like shoveling, sweeping, and vacuuming. The most important thing is to try to fit in periods of activity throughout the day. The latest research and recommendations emphasize that any increase in activity level provides a health benefit – some exercise is better than none! Several small sessions of aerobic activity are just as good as one longer session.
What are the benefits of being more active?
Fitting in some exercise each day provides both physical and mental benefits. Being physically active reduces blood pressure, decreases the incidence of Type 2 diabetes, and lowers the risk of stroke, breast cancer, and colon cancer. Additionally, exercise reduces depression and anxiety and has been found to improve memory, cognitive function, and mood. It lowers the risk of injury and can help to prevent osteoporosis. Aerobic activity (things that get your heart pumping) increases metabolism and strengthens the heart, while strength training helps to build lean muscle mass and strengthen bones.
What are some ways to get more exercise?
While daily, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is the best, even light-intensity activity will provide health benefits and is much better than sitting still. Take the stairs to work, take a break every hour to go outside and walk around your building if the weather’s nice, and consider getting a standing desk or an exercise ball to sit on to provide a challenge for your core. With more hours of daylight and warmer temperatures, think about getting outside to get some exercise. Go for a walk while you call your mother, or ride your bike to work if you live in a bike-friendly area. There are plenty of free ways to be active outside – no gym membership necessary!
Free ways to get active in Vermont this spring
- Plant a garden in your backyard! Not only is gardening a great form of exercise, but it will up your intake of local, fresh vegetables! No yard? Check out the Vermont Community Garden Network to find a garden near you.
- Take a hike! There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails in Vermont. Use microspikes or snowshoes until the snow melts. Remember that once the snow melts, trails are closed until Memorial Day Weekend to prevent erosion. Check the Green Mountain Club website for up-to-date conditions and trail information.
- Grab a friend and walk or run a 5k! The UVM WE 4/20 5K for Wellness is a free event open to the community to foster health and wellness.
Dayna Stimson, BA, RN – Dayna is a Corrections nurse who is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Nursing Practice – Family Nurse Practitioner concentration at the University of Vermont. Outside of work and school, she loves yoga, cooking, and getting into the mountains to ski and hike.
Minta Trivette, BA, RN – Minta is a Mental Health nurse who is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Nursing Practice – Family Nurse Practitioner concentration at the University of Vermont. When not studying or at work, you’ll find Minta hiking or biking in the mountains, playing her banjo, or growing veggies in her garden.
Gena Zollman, BA, RN – Gena is a Women’s Health nurse who is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Nursing Practice – Family Nurse Practitioner concentration at the University of Vermont. In her spare time, Gena enjoys biking to the lake to go swimming.
Powell, K. E., Paluch, A. E., & Blair, S. N. (2011). Physical activity for health: What kind? How much? How intense? On top of what?. Annual Review of Public Health, 32, 349-365.
Raingruber, B., & Robinson, C. (2007). The effectiveness of Tai Chi, yoga, meditation, and Reiki healing sessions in promoting health and enhancing problem solving abilities of registered nurses. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 28(10), 1141-1155.