On yesterday’s heart health infographic, one of the “Life’s 7 Simple Keys to Prevention” was Get Moving. Over 50 per cent of Americans do not get the recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Can it be any wonder that health care costs rise every year when there are so many of us who fail to do the minimum to keep ourselves healthy?
The third question to ask on the infographic was, “Am I making an effort or making excuses?” Some 14 per cent of visitors to a recent American Heart Association (AHA) survey said that they did not like exercising.
The AHA offers the following tips for those folks:
I thought I would pass them on. They quote Mercedes Carnethon, Ph.D., associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine as the source.
1. Find exercise that suits you
If you are social, do something that engages you, a group exercise class, kickball team or walk with a group of friends. If solo is more your style, walking or jogging might be a better fit. Regular readers know I have found bike riding as my answer.
One last example that springs to my mind is dancing. Because I love music, I always think of dancing as a super way to get a body moving. You can take a class, or just put on some music and do it at home. You will still get the same benefit from moving.
2. Make it a habit
“Exercise can become addictive in a positive way,” said Dr. Carnethon, who is also an American Heart Association volunteer. “Once it becomes a habit, you’ll notice when you aren’t doing something.”
This is a great idea. I look forward to my rides and consider them a priority in my day.
3. Build exercise into your lifestyle
“The key is building activity into your lifestyle so it is not disruptive,” Dr. Carnethon said. If you aren’t near a gym, it may be harder to become a habit for you. There are lots of ways to fit exercise into your life without a large financial commitment. Borrow exercise videos from the library, or record an exercise program off TV. I know that YouTube has an amazing amount of videos available right on your computer on every subject imaginable, including any kind of exercise you could want. She suggests walking as a great option. All you need is a good pair of shoes. I second that in spades. Check out my Page – Why You Should Walk More for more info on the many benefits of walking. Don’t forget, walking is weight bearing exercise, so it is good for your bones, too.
4. Do bouts of exercise
It is all right to break up physical activity into smaller segments. The AHA recommends 30 minutes a day of exercise most days, but if that sounds overwhelming, try three 10-minute workout sessions.
Walk to work, or walk a block or two to the train/bus to work. Climb a few flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator all the way up. Going shopping, park farther from the store and walk to and from it. There are lots of ways you can build in walking into your life.
5. Keep going
If you miss a day or a workout, don’t sweat it. Everybody struggles at some point. Just get back on the exercise horse the next day. “It doesn’t take too long to get back on track,” Dr. Carnethon said. “It’s easy to make something a habit again. You will see same benefits before. Any little bit you can fit in will show benefits.”
A good example of this is my recent trip when I couldn’t ride my bike for five days. I wrote Good Eating Habits Die Hard in Las Vegas.
It’s a cliche to say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” but it’s true, your good health is up to you.