You just left your doctor’s office, having finally gone for your yearly physical. Everything was fine, maybe a few extra pounds heavier from last year, but nothing major, except for that annoying recommendation, “Get more exercise”. You know it’s something you should do, but with a full time job, a busy home life of overscheduled kids, and the responsibilities of single parenthood, exercise is low on the hierarchy of needs.
Maybe next year, you tell yourself. Well, I’m here to tell you that exercise does not have to take a back seat anymore. Part of the problem is defining what exactly exercise is, and how much is really necessary to have an impact.
The American Academy of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate–intensity exercise each week. This may seem like a lot of exercise, however it is not quite as daunting as it sounds. It’s roughly the length of a feature length movie (with previews), something most of us would not think twice about sitting through weekly.
Work Exercise Into Your Schedule:
And it does not have to be done by joining an expensive gym, hiring a personal trainer, or rearranging an already packed schedule. If you make your goal 30 minutes, 5 days a week, it already sounds better. And, you don’t need to do those 30 minutes consecutively; only have 10 minutes? No problem!
Take a walk around the block, now only 20 minutes left for that day. Another walk with the dog after dinner and some abdominal crunches before bed, and you’ve done your 30 minutes for the day.
You get the idea, by making some simple changes to your schedule; this can be accomplished with ease.
There are innumerable opportunities to get your ‘exercise’ in each day with minimal alteration to your routine.
Are you taking your son/daughter to the mall?
Instead of driving around the parking lot looking for the closest spot, purposely park as far from the entrance as you can. You will have an invigorating walk to and from the front door.
Going to a store on the second floor?
Don’t take the escalator, seek out the stairs and take them instead. Better yet, go down and up a couple times.
Even watching TV can become an opportunity for exercise. At commercial breaks, do 2 sets of 25 jumping jacks, lunges, or squats. Recruit your kids to do this with you, and everyone benefits.
In my family, we do a deck of cards. We each take turns turning over the top card, and whatever number is on that card is the number of push-ups the person must do. Feel free to substitute lunges, tricep dips, or crunches for the push-ups to keep it interesting.
Remember all the fun you had as a kid, riding your bike around the neighborhood? Get back on a bike and experience that again. Make sure you have a properly fitted helmet and then enjoy the freedom of the open road. Again, it doesn’t have to be 20 miles at a high speed, simply engaging your leg muscles and elevating your heart rate for 20-30 minutes will make you feel like a new person.
Set Fitness Goals:
Think of setting a goal for yourself, maybe an hour or 2 on the bike, or a 10 mile organized race, and train slowly and steadily for it. Having a goal is great motivation for keeping yourself on track. Buy yourself a fun pair of bike shorts and colorful jersey, it’s amazing how looking the part of fit biker will immediately make you feel like you are.
When your friend invites you to coffee or lunch, suggest a walk or a bike ride together instead. Or check out the new yoga studio that just opened in town, chances are they are offering an intro class for beginners at a great price. Whatever you choose to do, keep in mind that bodies in motion stay in motion. Continue to try different things, keep it interesting, and before you know it, 150 minutes won’t be nearly enough.