Move More, Your Way
Move More, But How?
Physical activity is important but how much do we really need? Should we take 10,000 steps a day or exercise 150 minutes a week? Do we need to get up move around every hour? Does it even count if we move for 10 minutes at a time? All this advice could add up to 150 minutes a day. Too much! The truth is that any activity for any duration is helpful. It is ideal to move 150 minutes a week (22 minutes a day) in 10 minute increments + get up for a few minutes every hour or so + strength training 2 times a week to reduce disease risk and increase strength. But everything you already do + anything you can add improves your health.
Ok, cool but does being active have to be painful, sweaty, competitive, tedious, expensive, and/or time-consuming? How hard do we really need to push ourselves? Isn’t this going to be embarrassing? There are lots of options that don’t involve any of this. You may feel awkward at first but that's normal with anything new. It can be as simple as walking at pace and distance comfortable for you. And as you get going, you’ll notice many people just like you exercising too.
Real Guidelines for Real People
The Move Your Way Guidelines are my go-to resource for evidence-based info (factual and scientific vs. fads or opinions) on physical activity. They’re designed to fit into real lives and include recommendations, benefits and practical tips for each stage of life. They also include ways to modify activities based on various physical conditions. Check out the the clear, concise info at the link above when you can. Here are some basics in the meantime:
·Aim for 150 minutes weekly of moderate intensity cardio-activity, like brisk walking, recreational swimming, cycling <10 mph or general yard work. That’s 22 minutes per day. Hitting this goal substantially reduces risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and some cancers.
You don’t need to move 10+ minutes for it to count – while 10+ minutes per session is ideal for moderate intensity cardio, it’s not required. Any amount helps, so if you have just a minute or two, go for it!
Move for a few minutes every hour or so – even one minute of low-intensity movement makes a difference. Really.
Aim for 2 days of strength training a week to increases bone strength and muscular fitness + improve balance. If you’re new to this, start with Mayo Clinic’s Strength Training Guide. Aim for upper body one day and lower body the other + core both days.
Start Simple. Avoid Overwhelm.
Guidelines are helpful but making the time and finding things we’ll actually do are key to following them. Here’s some steps that might help:
Identify what physical activities you’re already doing. Stuff like walking the dog, chores, gardening, walking from the car or train/bus station to work / other places all count. Increase intensity and movement or even duration wherever you can.
·Plot out your daily schedule – weekdays and weekends
Find discretionary time blocks to see where you can be active. Could you call a friend while taking a walk? Can family time include a bike ride or nature walk? Can you combine brunch with a stroll (outdoors or inside a museum or mall)?
Find 20-40 total minutes when you can be active most days (remember 10 minute increments – or even less – are ok). You may need to sacrifice some screen time or other activities. Please don’t sacrifice sleep, family bonding, eating healthy or things that support your wellbeing.
Consider what you can see yourself doing day-to-day. Walking is an ideal start and long-term option for many people.
Consider where you’re most comfortable exercising – home, outdoors, gym or fitness classes and experiment. I like to read on the elliptical machine at the gym. I focus better there than at home. Also, reading helps tune out the, um, gym vibe.
Team up with people, go solo or do a mix. Figure out what encourages you to show up for a workout and complete it.
We don’t have to love being active but hating it is not necessary either. We can start by finding what we’re comfortable doing and feel satisfied with our accomplishments. Over time the benefits we see are often enough to keep us going. And every action counts!