Easy Tricks to Exercise More
We all know that exercise is linked to a host of benefits for the mind and body. Resistance training and cardiovascular training collectively create a stronger and more efficient heart, lower resting blood pressure, resting heart rate, improve body composition (lowering body fat while increasing muscle mass), reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses, improve bone density, and enhance strength and performance for sport and life. Additionally, exercise has profound effects psychologically, including mood improvement, reducing stress, improving sleep, and reducing depression and anxiety, so much so that the effect is comparable to that of antidepressants.
Exercise recommendations exist for adults as well as children - with adults suggested to get anywhere between 30-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most, if not all, days of the week (150+ minutes per week of moderate intensity, or 75+ minutes per week of vigorous intensity...see below), in addition to at least two days of resistance training for all major muscle groups. (I covered more on this in my Fitness Pyramid post.)
These recommendations can sound quite daunting - exercising nearly every day - how is this even possible? Many people struggle to even exercise a day or two out of the week. Here are some suggestions for how to get more exercise into your life. First it is important to note that exercise can be divided into two types - moderate and vigorous.
Moderate exercise: You will notice that your heart rate and breathing increase and that that you may start sweating. You can still talk, though, but wouldn't want to sing a song. You feel like you can do this for a very long time. Examples include brisk walking at 2.5-4 mph, very easy jogging, easy elliptical or biking, leisurely swimming or water aerobics, light dancing, and gardening. Recommendation: obtain at least 150 minutes per week.
Vigorous exercise: Your heart rate and breathing increase dramatically such that you can only say a few words at a time and your heart rate is ≥70% of your resting heart rate (devices such as FitBits can be used to determine this). This would feel hard or very hard - where it starts to get really challenging, like you wouldn't want to do it forever. Examples include faster jogging or running, fast cycling or swimming, heavy gardening or other manual labor, court sports and other sports with lots of frequent running. Recommendation: obtain at least 75 minutes per week.
Second, it is important to note that, contrary to previous guidelines, exercise can be done in any length bouts - no more "10 minutes at a time to count."
So here are my tips for increasing your exercise per week:
Add one vigorous workout per week. It counts as "double"! How to do it: do a vigorous, constant moving circuit training class or session (Yes, I do these! Just ask and I shall deliver!), go for a run or run-walk, take a spin or step aerobics class, or join a league.
Walk your dog. Walking your dog will add moderate intensity exercise per week. Take Rover on a 30-minute walk three times a week and you're 2/3 of the way there!
Add one long workout per week. Plan an outing such as dusting off your bike and going for an hour and a half ride - you just got 2/3 of your moderate workouts done OR really push and get some vigorous minutes while you're at it.
Find something you love. Running's not your jam? That's ok. Maybe you like rollerblading. Or cycling. Or walking in the park. If you can incorporate a hobby, even better.
Be lazy while you workout. What?? You like scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. You "didn't have time to workout." Get your tush off the couch and kill two birds with one stone.
Play with your kids outside, or if they are too little, walk your little little ones. Playing with your kids not only adds lots of activity to your own day, but it also increases activity to theirs! With the rise of childhood obesity and all of its affiliated health risks, it's imperative to help children get 60 minutes a day of play.
Do it first thing in the morning. This is probably one of my personal favorites. Every day I get up and walk on my treadmill while I watch the news. It's not super hard but I get about 3000 steps and 30 minutes of activity before heading out for my day. Worst case scenario, if my day is totally falling apart, I know I've at least gotten something in.
Make an appointment. (Shameless self plug, I know) ;) Having an appointment with a trainer makes it harder to back out and all you have to do is show up - no thinking required!
Go right after work. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. The minute you walk through your front door, you are in Done mode, or even if you're not, there are so many other possible distractions that could prevent it.
Think smaller. Don't think you have to commit to super lengthy workouts. A short workout can be super effective and, if vigorous count as "double."
Mix it up. Are your workouts getting stale? Ask your trainer to mix up your sessions for variety, try a new class, or get into the great outdoors. (On this note, I am happy to do outdoor sessions - just ask me!)
Find a workout buddy. Having that person to commit to makes it harder to back out and also makes the time much more enjoyable.
Don't think so far out in advance - just worry about how you can incorporate more movement TODAY. Can you take the stairs all day, take ten minutes to walk at lunch, and walk the dog for ten minutes after work? You just did 30 minutes!
Here's a fun playlist of funny exercise videos to get you started - just make sure you hop on that treadmill or bike first! :D
Terry Crews "Euro Training": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNf606dfCb0 (a classic!)
National Aerobics Championships: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIfAkOBMf5A (for some reason this makes me wish I was an aerobics instructor circa '86)
Prancercise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-50GjySwew (I feel like this could potentially be a pretty solid cardio workout if I had no shame)
In good health,