I am not naturally drawn to physical activity. I AM drawn to food and sloth-like behavior. #letsbereal
Nonetheless, I recognize the importance of being physical active and also know that it yields significant benefits for health. Therefore, although I sorta live to eat, I try to counter that with working out to eat, too. Ha! More so, though, I can’t just preach and not practice, so off to practice (ie be physically active) I go!
There is often a lot of confusion about what exactly it means to be physically active though. In honor of National Physical Education and Sport Week (May 1-7), I decided to share some physical activity tips with you this week. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, scientific evidence suggests that individuals who are ages 6 and older should maintain or improve their health through regular physical activity.
What does that mean though??
According to the National Institute of Heart, Lung, and Blood, the guidelines recommend that:
- children and teens be physically active for at least 60 minutes on most, if not all, days. For children, the 60 minutes of activity can be done in smaller chunks of time over the day. Some of that time may come from physical education (PE) and gym classes in schools.
- adults should do a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes, or 30 minutes 5 days a week, of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. Health experts recommend this level of activity to reduce the risk of chronic disease later in life.
- 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week will help adults avoid gradual weight gain. This physical activity also can be done in smaller chunks of time over the day.
“Quick Tip: Test Your Exercise Intensity
When you’re being active, just try talking: if you’re breathing hard but can still have a conversation easily, it’s moderate-intensity activity. If you can only say a few words before you have to take a breath, it’s vigorous-intensity activity.”
But really, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Well, this article summarizes the different types of activities that adults can engage in that are super beneficial for your health. They include:
- Endurace exercises (below are some types that fall in this category)
- Brisk walking or jogging
- Yard work (mowing, raking)
- Climbing stairs or hills
- Playing tennis or basketball
- Strength exercises
- Lifting weights
- Using resistance bands
- Standing on one foot
- Walking heel to toe
- Stretching exercises
Yoga can also be helpful for #’s 3 and 4, for example. Remember to always consult with your primary care doctor before beginning any exercise regimen or routine.
- Do a little light activity, such as easy walking, before and after your endurance activities to warm up and cool down.
- Listen to your body: endurance activities should not cause dizziness, chest pain or pressure, or a feeling like heartburn.
- Be sure to drink liquids when doing any activity that makes you sweat. If your doctor has told you to limit your fluids, be sure to check before increasing the amount of fluid you drink while exercising.
- If you are going to be outdoors, be aware of your surroundings.
- Dress in layers so you can add or remove clothes as needed for hot and cold weather.
- To prevent injuries, use safety equipment, such as a helmet when bicycling.”
I know that being in quarantine has affected many of our daily lives, including routines which included going to the gym. However, it’s a great time to get creative about how you get those workouts in! My friend and colleague, Dr. Olivia Affuso told me about the REI challenge, where people who normally train outdoors or in gyms, are now running in their living rooms (around the coffee table) or in their small backyards!
I have personally walked a mile around the inside of my house (a loop around my living room, foyer, dining room, kitchen) while on a zoom call and run a mile in our backyard while the kids were playing. I have also walked/run on our treadmill and used our stepper, in our little makeshift gym we built in our basement!
Lots of great apps allow you to work out virtually too. I’ve loved the 7 minute workout for years.
Youtube also has tons of workout videos, including Yoga and Zumba! I personally loved my P90X videos from years ago, but can’t find them, so I’ve relied on YouTube to access that content.
Being physically active has so many benefits, and yet somehow for some of us, it’s so hard to get motivated and be consistent. As someone who struggles with being active on the daily, I’ll be the first to admit that starting is the biggest rate limiting step. But also, that every little bit counts. So start small! Go for a walk. Play basketball with the kids. Try to ride a bike. Try a little yoga. Whatever you do, try to move everyday, and see the benefits magically work their way into your life over time.
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