A recent publication in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) rekindled the interest of fitness professionals in what clients are doing in the 23 hours of the day they aren’t spending with their trainers.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that a minimum of 30-60 minutes a day, on most days of the week should be dedicated to accumulating at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each week.
On 2-3 days, resistance training is recommended to improve balance, agility and coordination.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
For someone whose concept of exercise is standing up to change the channels, instead of using the remote, ACSM standards may seem daunting.
Even more intimidating is that even if a person manages to fit in about an hour a day of exercise, they may still be at an increased risk for premature death.
Sedentary behavior is to be inactive, when you could be more active. In other words, even when you are not intentionally exercising, try to intentionally move more.
Easier said than done! I’m going to give you specific exercises and tips to help you get into a routine.
I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Whoa, pump the breaks! I was just looking for a few exercises to get me started, now I’m about to die?!”.
Keep in mind that mortality is a hard outcome that researchers use to determine the influence of certain behaviors on lifespan. Statistical analysis shows associations and trends, but is not prescriptive for you!
The cohort followed for the AJCN referenced above, were between the ages of 25 and 70, and were followed for an average of over 12 years. The folks who passed away were grouped according to their lifestyles and personal characteristic in measures like Body Mass Index (BMI) and physical activity (PA) levels.
These groups allowed the researchers to determine if people who are overweight, or sedentary are more likely to experience premature death compared to healthy weight and active individuals.
The results of the study showed that increasing PA levels had a greater mortality risk reduction compared to lowering body weight. So the combined take-home message is to be active and achieve, or maintain a healthy body weight in order to increase longevity. The hard part is how to make this happen.
In my opinion, there are two major ways to go about getting active and healthy:
2. Increase Physical Activity
To the casual eye, these two methods may appear to be the same. They are not! Exercise is intentionally trying to improve some aspect of fitness (ie aerobic endurance, muscular strength/endurance, power, speed, etc.).
On the other hand, Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure.
My challenge to you: work on getting into a routine where you can maintain exercise habits and reduce sedentary behavior, even during your regular life activities.
The following tips are everyday exercises that will help you get into a routine so you can gain maximum health and performance benefits.
Be intentional and challenge yourself!
Some form of bipedal locomotion is one of the easiest ways of getting into a routine. If you are beginning, start off walking. If you have a little bit more of a fitness foundation, go for a jog.
If you are somewhere in between, try doing intervals. Walk for 2-4 minutes, then jog for a minute, then repeat until your desired time is up. Enjoyment is a huge part of getting into a routine. So exercise with a buddy, or exercise at a location that is enjoyable to you.
Running/walking stairs is a great way to build leg strength while hitting the cardio hard.
I was just at a conference a few weeks ago where the fitness facilities were under renovation, so I took 30 minutes and ran up and down 10 flights of stairs in the hotel I was staying at; a great way to maintain a routine for people who travel.
Check out another article I wrote about 8 effective exercises for people starting up a kettlebell routine. Anybody interested in a low-tech, high results, total body workout can get excited about using kettlebells.
People who want a solid cardio workout, but are afraid of running because of the impact can decide to remain seated and do some serious rowing. Sometimes the technique is harder to get down than running, but most people can get engaged with learning a new skill, which helps maintain your new exercise routine.
Earlier I mentioned that enjoyment is critical for developing a habit, well so is motivation. What if you can be motivated to do something you enjoy? Try going with a friend to a spin class where an instructor will lead you through your workout. You have a fitness professional keeping you accountable, but you also have a friend for moral support!
Decrease your sedentary time with active habits.
This one is easy to make a habit of. If you are a commuter, park in the spot furthest away from your destination to get a few extra steps in for the day. It’ll cost you a couple of minutes, but it will also keep your body’s metabolism going.
If you are using public transportation, consider getting dropped off a few blocks from your final destination.
2. Take the stairs
No matter where you go, avoid taking the escalators and the elevators. If you need a restroom break, consider going to a bathroom on a different level to get a few more flights in for the day. Keep your muscles loose, and your blood flowing to help you get into an active routine.
3. Every hour on the hour
Avoid prolonged sitting as much as possible. Increased activity equals increased blood flow, including an increase to the brain. Avoid the mid-morning or afternoon slumps by doing a set of 10 body weight exercises every hour on the hour. A great way to get an extra 8 or so sets in to contribute towards your routine.
4. Don’t rely on technology
The irony of my method of information dissemination is not lost on me here, but try not to rely on things like internet and email communication. If you have a memo for someone down the hall, get up and deliver it yourself. Maintain an active routine as much as you can throughout the day!
5. Active Furniture
Depending on budget and availability, this suggestion may look different for different people. My preference is the Varidesk option, so I can stand while writing on my computer.
Other people may prefer to simply sit on an exercise ball to stimulate posture and maximize muscular engagement, even when sitting.
Claim Your Routine!
Regardless of how you increase your exercise and decrease your sedentary behavior to get into a routine, make sure that you find something that works for you. You can mix and match any of the above suggestions. Or you can do some trial and error as you work your way down the list.
The key point is consistency; find something that works for you, and stick with it. An exercise routine is like any habit, you have to do it consistently to make it stick.
So go out there, get fit, stay active, and enjoy your life!