The American Dream: Living a Healthy Life
The modern American lifestyle often leaves little room for self-evaluation. When we were younger, a lot of our time was spent being outside more than inside, playing sports, or exercising to challenge our bodies to reach new workloads and goals. Now, we go through our days focusing heavily on work, school, family, and other tasks that may take priority over our health. Whether we are just starting our career or have been working for a number of years, the daily grind of work often distracts us from our own well-being. We often miss the warning signs that we are not as active as we used to be. Over time our bodies progressively degenerate: muscle mass, strength, tendon and ligament elasticity, and bone tissue are just a few. After age 30, we lose, on average, 3% to 8% of our muscle mass per decade, and this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60.
For many working American adults, days often involve a lot of sitting, especially for those working remotely after the COVID-19 pandemic. When working in-person, we may have gotten up from our desk to talk to a coworker or eat lunch. Now we find ourselves having been in front of our computer screen all day, forgetting to get up to grab a bite to eat or use the restroom. Working in a job that involves more brain activity than physical activity can also be concerning for our mental health. Evidence suggests that exercise may be an often-neglected intervention in mental healthcare. There are a lot of benefits to physical activity and exercising at manageable levels including the release of endorphins which can lead to improvements in mood, mental alertness, energy, and stamina. Generally, adults should try to conduct 150-minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week.
So what are some ways we can increase our level of activity with a busy schedule? We could go for a walk before work or during a lunch break, or walk with a coworker in a 1:1 meeting or with the team to a lunch spot. Some offices may offer active games like corn hole, ping pong, or foosball. Remote-working teams and anyone in general can join group fundraising events like Movember, the American Heart Association Heart Walk, the Relay for Life, and other campaigns. Offices can get creative and make team exercise challenges. Weekends are also a good time to work towards the goal of 150-minutes of exercise per week. For example, if we want to exercise for 30 minutes 5 days a week, a 30-minute moderate-intensity walk around the neighborhood or mall on Saturday and Sunday can already allow us to complete 2 out of the 5 days.
Every person can make a difference in the world in one way or another. In order to best serve others and perform well in a role mentally and physically, it is important to prioritize our own health and well-being. Every day is a new chance to decide the direction in which we want to continue or start going. Seek the resources and people that can support you in reaching your goals and recognize that small steps will lead to big changes. The world is waiting for you and all you have to offer.