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Human beings are meant to move! This probably comes as no surprise to you, but over the years many, many studies have supported that we’re not made to sit for long periods of time, staring at computer and TV screens. Sadly, this doesn’t line up with our modern lives and sensibilities, which places a burden on us to devote time and energy to making this happen.
Numerous studies over the years have shown a significant benefit in terms of weight management, heart health, lung health, reducing aches and pains (even chronic pain), and being massively beneficial to mental health and well-being. How does it do this? Well, we’re not entirely certain. However, what has been noted is a general sense of well-being, less depression, less anxiety, and much better sleep patterns when people are consistently physically active.
So how much activity should you be shooting for? Well conveniently, the American Heart Association has guidelines of 150 minutes (about 2 and a half hours) per week. Generally, these sessions should be at least 20 minutes, with a moderate range of activity being an activity that keeps you just out of breath enough so a conversation would be difficult, but not gasping for air. Walking, biking, yoga, Pilates, hiking, trail running, indoor machines like a rower, treadmill, elliptical, are all excellent sources of exercise. For most people, this will break down to 30 minutes or more four to five times a week. Of course, discuss with your primary care physician if you have any limitations or health conditions that may impact your ability to work out.
The American Heart Association also recommends that some mild strength training and lifting exercises for muscle be a part of that as well. Over the years it has been consistently shown that keeping moderate muscle tone is excellent for cardiovascular health, reducing arthritic pain, strengthening bones against osteoporosis, and maintaining metabolism as muscle is very metabolically active and burns calories even when not in use, like sleeping.
And the secret sauce? Be P-A-T-I-E-N-T. If you haven’t exercised in a while or are taking it to another level, your body will need some time to adjust and some TLC. The human body can cruise along like a Ferrari, but it needs fuel and maintenance to make it perform. Stretching, foam rolling, and massage are wonderful ways to reduce soreness, preserve or expand flexibility, and prevent muscle cramps or repetitive injuries like tendonitis.
How long does it take to acclimate? It’s going to take 4-6 weeks before your body gets the hang of consistent exercise and doesn’t hurt as much, so you have time. Many people jump into working out, exhausting and/or injuring themselves, and give up in frustration as quickly as they started. But that’s not you – you’re going to take the slow, unglamorous pace of exercise that reduces the risk of injury and allows your body to adjust in the time it needs.
Where to start? 10,000 steps a day. It’s a tried and true recommendation. You can find inexpensive pedometers on Amazon or all the way up to an Apple Watch or FitBit, which also track exercise and steps very, very well.
Here are some videos to get you moving (pun intended ) in the right direction:
AHA Quick Tips on Exercise:
20 Minute AHA 1 Mile walk at home:
For the strength-training minded:
And for those who feel ready and able to do some Yoga, here is a 20 minute intro video:
Author Dr. Jon Doctor, Entrepreneur, Founder of Aveo Wellness