Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lesson 6: Physical Activity

Yes, it is important to exercise. There are LOTS of benefits - both physical and psychological. I could make a big long list of all the benefits - instead I will just say, we should all be exercising unless there is a medical reason NOT to.

Physical activity BURNS calories (you know, those pesky things we keep eating every day). Those that are successful in weight loss and maintenance, all follow regular exercise routines.

What types of activities should be done?
  • Choose activities you can accomplish and enjoy. Stick to things you like - or can at least tolerate. If you despise the activity, you won't stick to it. 
  • Choose aerobic activities. You will burn more if you can do moderate to vigorous activities. Don't worry if you have to start slower, you will build up to higher levels as you 'get into shape'.

How much should be done?
  • The public health recommendation from CDC and ACSM is at least 30 minutes per day on most or all days. For weight loss and maintenance, it should be closer to 60 minutes every day.

Finding time to be active.
This is usually one of the biggest barriers to exercise.

  • Set aside a block of time like you would any other appointment or 'to do' items during your day.
  • Schedule physical activity for the week. Instead of planning one day at a time, plan your entire week. This will allow you to see your availability for the week and plan longer/shorter workouts to best fit your schedule. 
  • Look for free time during the day. Use the time to be active. If you have 10 minutes at work, walk the stairs rather than checking your email.  Or talk a walk around your building. Try to see how many 2-3 minute walks you can accumulate throughout the day.
  • Turn inactive time into active time. Evaluate how you spend your time. Be honest with yourself.  Try cutting your TV time in half. Talk a walk, go to the gym, etc instead.
Increase Adherence to Your Workouts
Set up activity reminders and cues.
  • set an alarm
  • prepare - have everything ready to go and visible throughout the day.
  • fitness magazines, pictures, etc can be laced around the house/office as reminders/motivators to be active.
Identify any barriers that may arise and make a plan.
  • If you walk/run outside: what will you do if it rains? 
  • If you began programs in the past, why did you stop? How can you prevent this from happening again?

Find ways to increase enjoyment and add variety to your routine.

Establish long-term physical activity goal.
  • Do a 5k (schedule one).
  • Bike/hike certain routes/lengths.
  • Your goal should be difficult, realistic, and measurable. Hard enough to challenge you, but realistic enough to actually achieve.

Share your goals with friends/family. Facebook is great for this.

Believe in yourself.
  • Don't underestimate what you can do. If you doubt yourself, you are less likely to achieve your goals. Set a goal you know you can achieve and then increase your goals as you achieve each one.

Lifestyle activity
Things you do in your day to day happenings. This counts in your overall fitness as well.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Park at the far end of the lot instead of the close end.
Take several trips up and down the stairs throughout the day instead of piling things for a later trip.
Every hour, take short walk breaks at work.
Use your lunch break to get in 10 minutes of walking.
Get off the bus 1 stop earlier.
Walk the dog instead of letting out in the yard.
Take activity breaks during TV commercials.

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