In my last newsletter we explored some eating patterns that lead to being overweight, such as the “meal skipper”, “nighttime snacker”, and “portion-distortion”. I also provided you with some tips to overcome these unhealthy patterns. In part-two of this three part series we will look at physical activity, or lack thereof.
Exercise is an important part of life, it helps to bring oxygen to our cells, it builds muscle, keeps us limber, and helps us to maintain or lose weight. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) it is recommended that children ages 6 to 17 should get at least 60 minutes of exercise every day. Adults 18 to 64 years old the guidelines are 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week plus two days of strength training at the minimum, and if you are over 64 years old the same guidelines apply if you are generally fit and have no limiting health conditions. Let’s look at some issues that are holding some back from a weekly exercise routine.
Do you often hear yourself saying “I want to exercise but have little time to devote to being more active” or “If I can’t do my full workout, I typically do nothing at all”, or maybe “ I really don’t know the first thing about how to get started with an exercise program”? If so, let me give you some tips to get these thoughts out of your head.
If you are the “I want to exercise but have little time to devote to being more active” person then maybe you just need to understand some of the benefits of exercising and that you really can sneak exercise into your daily routine. First, write a list of the benefits (other than weight loss) of being more physical. Make the connection between being more active and boosting your energy level. You don’t need to sweat or feel uncomfortable to achieve benefits. Here are a few simple sneak activities to get you started: take the stairs instead of the elevators, park your car further away when you go shopping or to the office, walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of sending an email or text, or walk your dog longer. All activities burn calories, some more than others, see below.
Sedentary Calories burned/hour*
Lying down/sleeping 90
Sitting writing, card playing 114
Bicycling (5 mph) 174
Walking (2 mph) 198
Dancing, ballroom 210
Light housework 246
Tennis (doubles) 312
Scrubbing floors 440
Tennis (singles) 450
Aerobic dance 546
Bicycling (13 mph) 612
* Hourly estimates based on values calculated for calories burned per minute for a 150 pound person.
Maybe you are an “all-or-nothing-at-all” type of person when it comes to your workout. If you know you can’t get in your full workout do you choose to just do nothing? Know that it’s better to consistently follow a moderate exercise program than to inconsistently follow an intense exercise program. Consider wearing a step-counter (pedometer) to measure how many steps you take in a day (10,000 steps = 5 miles), you may be surprised. But if you find you need some new ways to increase your step count, a few were mentioned above.
If you do not know how to get started in an exercise program you should know that a total physical fitness program has three components: aerobics (activities that increase heart and breathing rates, such as walking, jogging, biking, and swimming); resistance training (lifting weights); and flexibility (stretching). Start by choosing an easy activity, like walking. Set small goals, such as walking 10-15 minutes per day with the end goal of getting at least 30 minutes per day as part of your normal day’s routine. For resistance training you don’t need to purchase expensive equipment, look around the house, lifting two water bottles or soup cans work. Also, know the basics of workout nutrition, such as staying hydrated and timing meals and snacks so you’re energized for your workouts. As regards to nutrition, water is the best choice for hydration (unless you are a pro-athlete working out intensely for 2+ hours at a time), and it’s best to have a healthy carbohydrate before exercise (this is your energy source), such as fruit and whole grains.
Eating balanced meals is just part of the equation for a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is another part of that equation and I hope I gave you some ideas you can use to become physically active. Remember being physically active is good for your health, and boosting your energy. Stay tuned, next we’ll look at the third and final part of the equation, coping patterns.