Exercise…we all know we need it but most Americans don’t make the time for it. We are busy people after all! I’m here to offer you some good news about exercise– something is always better than nothing! Last year the US Department of Health and Human Services released the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines, the first update in 10 years. The recommendations for
exercise amounts did not actually change; 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity (plus two days of muscle-strengthening activity) leads to positive health benefits. What did actually change was the way in which we can obtain this duration of exercise. Previously it was thought that bouts of exercise less than 10 minutes were ineffective for improving health. Here’s what the guidelines now state: “bouts of any length contribute to the health benefits associated with the accumulated volume of physical activity”. Positive health changes can start from even modest amounts of physical activity! So, no time for lengthy sessions at the gym?
No problem! Here are some quick tips for getting more physical activity into your day:
1. Take a study or work break every hour to get up and walk…even if it’s less than 5 minutes!
2. Running errands? Choose the farthest away parking spot and pick up the pace as you head to your destination.
3. Choose joyful movement! You are much more likely to stay active if you enjoy what you are doing.
4. Watching tv…yes you heard me right! Take advantage of the commercials to do some quick push-ups, squats, or planks.
5. Put in in your class schedule! The HES Department offers Weight Training, Yoga, and Tai Chi. What better than being physically active and actually getting credit for it!
The real take home message is that we should always be looking for opportunities to reduce sedentary time and to increase active time. Just by replacing sedentary behavior with light- intensity physical activity we can reduce our risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality, and the incidence of type 2 diabetes. Stop feeling guilty about the lack of time you spend in gym and start taking action. Every bit of activity makes a difference. Some activity is better than none. More is better than less. So, go…start moving!
Abbie Wrights, MS, ACSM-CEP
Assistant Professor of the Practice, HES Department