Let’s get moving.
If we want to age well, it’s an imperative. But with the daily demands of work and home, fitting in a workout seemingly can be difficult. However, studies have shown that even 10 minutes of physical activity at a time can add up to big benefits.
The key is, well, to just do it.
The how and when of moving more ultimately rests with you, but by moving regularly you’ll be more likely to prevent and heal mental and physical issues.
Why and how much we should exercise
The benefits of exercise are numerous and include:
- Increases muscle strength and endurance
- Increases HDL (high density lipoprotein – the “good” cholesterol)
- Helps regulate blood sugar
- Maintains bone density and helps prevent osteoporosis
- Improves posture, agility and range of motion
- Reduces stress levels and depression while improving mood and energy levels
- Reduces risk of coronary artery disease, improves circulation and helps control blood pressure
- Regulates sleeping habits and reduces fatigue
- Decreases body fat and increases lean mass
So what and how much exercise do we need?
Aerobic activity, strength training and flexibility training all are important.
Ideally, aim for at least three 25-minute sessions of high intensity physical (aerobic) activity OR five 30- minute sessions of moderate intensity per week. And at least two days per week, spend 20-30 minutes on strength exercises using body weight (push ups, sit ups, planks), hand weights, resistance bands, or machines.
If you’re wanting to lose weight, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 250 minutes per week (45 minutes per day for five days each week) of medium-intensity physical activity for significant weight loss. But you’ll be more successful with dietary restrictions combined with physical activity.
Also, flexibility training is important. It will improve the range of motion of joints and muscles, and benefits are greatest if done 10-15 minutes after warming up or completing a strength or aerobic workout.
For those over 65 years old or with disabilities, work with a physical therapist, exercise physiologist, or other healthcare professional to create a plan that is right for you. If you’re at risk of falling, incorporate other movement to help balance such as tai chi or yoga.
Get moving – even in 10 minute bursts
Even 10 minutes of physical activity at a time has benefits, says Dr. Timothy Church MD, author of Move Yourself: The Cooper Clinic Medical Director’s Guide to All the Healing Benefits of Exercise (Even a Little!)
Something is better than nothing.
Here are a few ideas, and you can find more in this ACSM document on reducing sedentary behaviors:
- Go for a walk on your lunch hour
- Get up a half hour early and do exercises with resistance bands or using your own body weight
- Squeeze in a family walk after dinner, instead of turning on the TV
- Get a pedometer and challenge yourself to 10,000 steps per day
- Find time for ACSM’s 7-minute high-intensity workout
An article from Livestrong maintains that you could even lose weight by exercising 10 minutes per day.
So even if you don’t have time for a full workout on a given day, a little creativity and forethought can lead you to fitting in some movement, a few times per day.
And you likely will find that you have more energy, not less, by getting moving.
What’s your favorite way to get moving? What trips you up if you can’t fit it in? I’d love to hear from you, what works for you and what you’re willing to try. Send me a note.
Welcome! I’m Amy, an integrative health coach, offering grace and space for a healthier you. This article is Step 12 in the “31 Steps to a Healthier You” series. You can access all posts in the series here. And I hope you’ll want to stick around for a while. If so, please subscribe at this link so you’ll get updates.