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Why Physical Activity is important: finding ways to make it an easy part of your life.

With a new year, we hear a lot of talk about getting back to exercise and getting in shape. Sometimes too much…thinking about physical activity as a fun part of your life can make it easier. Adding a new routine is always the hardest part. Try thinking of it as a healthy habit, just like brushing your teeth, washing your hair or getting enough sleep. Change the thought that you have to “exercise” for 30-60 minutes and think of it as “active time” each day.

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise spread out throughout the week.  They also recommend moderate to high intensity muscle strengthening two times per week and weight bearing for increased bone strengthening three times per week.  Their biggest recommendation is to decrease sedentary, sitting time. 

Let’s break that down, because just reading it made me feel like my time was already being sucked up with “exercise”. 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity is just 20 minutes a day! A brisk walk is moderate activity. You can break this up into three days a week of 50 mintues of yoga, walking, swimming, cycling, hiking, mall walking…whatever you enjoy that gets you moving!

Physical activity includes anything that moves your body and burns calories.  The significant difference is between moderate and vigorous activity choices.

Moderate activity is an activity where your heart rate goes up, but you would still be able to talk.  Good options to choose would be walking at 2.5 miles per hour, playing doubles tennis, biking less than 10 miles per hour, or doing light housework or gardening. Find what YOU enjoy!

Vigorous activity includes activity where you start to get warm and are sweating.  You would not be able to carry on a conversation without feeling out of breath.  Good choices in this category would include singles tennis, running, walking uphill, heavy yardwork, or biking more than ten miles per hour. Again, find what feels good to YOU.

Regular exercise has huge benefits for your long- and short-term health.  In the short term, exercise helps with improved sleep, improved gut routines, improved memory and processing speed, and improved sense of wellbeing. 

Longer term, exercise decreases the risks of heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia, Alzheimer’s depression, anxiety, and cancer.  Weight bearing exercise improves bone health and decreases the risk of falls.  Exercise can also decrease some complications during pregnancy.  And of course, exercise helps to limit weight gain and improve weight loss.

Start small with just moving during the day with housework or going for a walk.  From there start to increase with longer bouts of exercise or more vigorous activity. Change your mindset to make it a healthy habit, rather than something you “have to do”.

We offer a free 15 minute consultation and our therapists can help you design and build a plan for a healthy lifestyle including activity, nutrition, mindfulness, sleep and wellness. Click here to schedule now and start making healthy habits in 2022!

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