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Keep moving to improve longevity

September 5, 2014

If you struggle to find motivation to get more active, there's news that could help. According to researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, if everyone's daily inactivity was limited to just three hours, the average life expectancy would increase by two years. Regular exercise is an important part of healthy aging, as it can improve your physical and mental health and help lower your risk of developing certain diseases.

"The risks associated with sedentary behavior appear to be on par with the risks associated with smoking and obesity," Peter Katzmarzyk, Ph.D., LFPA Endowed Chair at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, said.

There are many ways to making fitness a regular part of your life. Some of these tips can be helpful if you're trying to ease into a more active life.

Take a daily walk

The simplest way to exercise more is to reserve a small part of your day for a leisurely walk. Depending on your preference, you can go to a gym and walk on the treadmill, stroll around the mall or if it's a nice day, take a walk around the block to get some cardio. You can use the time to reflect on the day, or you can just zone out and consider it a form of meditation. Jamie Goldstein, a physical therapist, told CBS News that the low-impact activity is a great way for older adults to strengthen muscles and bones, improve heart function and ultimately extend their life span. She added that it only takes 15 to 30 minutes of walking for your body to benefit from the activity.

Attend a class

Often times, people are motivated to stay consistent when they have a set schedule and an instructor guiding them through each motion. Plus, encouragement from a group of classmates and friends could also be the push you need to regularly attend. The YMCA noted that having other people in attendance encourages you to continuously come back and hold yourself accountable for missing a class.

Start creative projects

Even if you don't realize it, you may already be exercising. Some everyday activities, like running errands and gardening, can be considered a workout. According to a Swedish study, physical activity, whether in a traditional sense or an alternative form, produces the same health benefits in older adults. Cleaning your house for 30 minutes can produce health benefits comparable to a walk of the same duration.