PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: MOVEMENT & EXERCISE
LC Arisman, Certified Personal Trainer
What do you imagine when you hear the phrase “active lifestyle”? It’s a term we hear a lot, and it evokes images of yoga poses, mountain climbing, dance classes, cycling, running, and hiking. Physical activity makes us think of dedicated exercise, which is part of the picture, but not the entire story. Physical activity includes aerobic exercise like running, taking a class, or swimming; strength training; stretching; and regular movement throughout the day.
A person who exercises regularly and then spends eight hours working at a desk is not very physically active. A person who works on their feet all day and does not stretch or exercise is not a very physically active person.
Ideally, we need to marry the two. An active lifestyle includes 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise, either in one dose or split up throughout the day, muscle strengthening two to three times a week, daily muscle lengthening, and frequent movement throughout the day— that is, sitting for less than an hour at a time. Now “ideal” may not be attainable for everyone, but knowing what the ideal blend is can help us strive for progress, so we land closer than we otherwise might.
Take a moment to take stock of your current activity level…no judgment allowed
- How many days a week are you getting aerobic exercise?
- How many days a week do you strength train?
- How often do you sit for more than an hour?
- How often do you sit for more than two hours?
- How often do you stretch?
Let your current circumstance guide your next step. If you notice a gaping hole in your physical activity, fill that hole. If you’re getting plenty of cardio but no strength, start to add that in. If you’re getting strength but skipping the stretch component, work that into your program. If the inertia of sitting is bringing you down, start by standing up every hour or and walking around for five minutes.
As with any change, pick your focus and start small. Acknowledge where you are and take action to improve your habits and increase your activity level. Very few people do ALL the things all the time, but with focus and attention you can do most of the things most of the time (or at least MORE of the things).