A number of factors affect your health, with physical activity being one of the most important. So how much exercise do you need to boost your health? Not as much as you might think! The World Health Organization (WHO) just published a 104-page set of guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behavior. The new guidelines reflect a large and growing list of studies suggesting physical activity of any kind is healthful. WHO recommends adults get between 150 and 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Some examples of moderate-intensity workouts include fast-paced walking, water aerobics, dancing, gardening (it can make you happier too), tennis (doubles), or biking. High-intensity aerobics, such as running, swimming laps, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, racquetball hiking is more beneficial and requires only 75 to 150 minutes a week. Even 10 minutes of activity at a time adds up to your daily total.
Staying active is important throughout one’s lifespan. According to WHO in children and adolescents, physical activity confers benefits for the following health outcomes: improved physical fitness (cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness), cardiometabolic health (blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and insulin resistance), bone health, cognitive outcomes (academic performance, less attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), mental health (reduced symptoms of depression), and reduced obesity. WHO recommends in this age group 60 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. They also recommend children and adolescents should limit the amount of time spent being sedentary, particularly the amount of recreational screen time.
Remember, we want to make being physically active a permanent part of our lifestyle routine and not just a New Year’s resolution that is broken in a month. Dr. Naveed Saleh, MD recommends these tips to help you commit to regular physical activity.
1. Commit. Humans are creatures of habit, and consistency leads to habit formation. Set a goal to exercise daily for 30 days for a specific length of time. Doing so will make exercise a part of your routine.
2. Visualize. When starting an exercise routine, create a vision of the results you desire after 2 weeks, 2 months, and 2 years. Continually reassess this vision while on your physical activity journey.
3. Track your progress. Apply documentation to your workouts. Use an online fitness tracker or smartphone to track progress. A simple journal will work for people who don’t use technology. This will build momentum.
4. Schedule your workouts. It can be hard for a busy
person to find time during the day to work out, which is
why scheduling in advance is crucial. Pick a time that
works for you on any given day and stick to it. Even if you
are busy one day, find a 15 -minute window to get your
legs moving and blood flowing.
5. Warm-ups/cool downs. For those who haven’t
exercised in some time and even for those who exercise
regularly, adequate warm-ups and cool downs are key.
Warm-ups help the body prepare for exercise, and cool
downs allow the heart to return to a resting rate.
6. Be realistic. If you’re just getting back into an exercise
routine, it’s important to set goals. Furthermore, age and
chronic conditions also limit exercise. Just do your best.
Don’t compare to other people.
7. Support. Friends and family can be supportive for those
interested in maintaining an exercise routine. Lean on
your support system and share your exercise goals for
the best results. You can also join groups or like-minded
exercisers for additional encouragement.
Another important point to remember is that you don’t have to be “exercising” to stay active. Small adjustments in your day-to-day life, like less sitting, park your car farther from your work entrance or store, use stairs not the elevator, take a brief walk after dinner, or get in a quick stretch while watching tv.
We really have no excuse not to be active all year round. We live in a country where activities abound. When the weather is bad, we have the Camas Center. Go swim or simply play in the pool, walk in the gym, shoot baskets, play pickleball or use one of the workout machines. Don’t be afraid to talk to one of the personal trainers to help you on your goal to become more active.