Did you know on average around 80% of adults are not getting enough exercise? Maybe this statement means nothing to you because, hey, who would actually choose to work out on a regular basis? Going for a run? Lifting weights for hours? HIIT workouts? Definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. But what if I told you that moving your body doesn’t have to be so strenuous and, in fact, exercise can actually be as fun as you want it to be. Would you think differently about moving your body? Would it change your perception around working out? Let’s dig into it.
I got this particular number from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans through the Department of Health & Human Services, which states that a majority of adults aren’t working out enough. Worse, about half of all Americans (which equates to about 117 million) have one or more preventable chronic diseases, and 70% of those are influenced by regular exercise. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says regular physical activity can significantly decrease your risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression and anxiety, dementia, and even some types of cancers.
Am I saying exercise totally prevents these? Absolutely not. But the research does show that exercising regularly can improve your body’s overall health and gives you a better fighting chance in preventing these types of activities. That’s because exercise can help lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol, helps regulate your blood sugar, improves your mood, and revs up your metabolism as you build muscle.
With so many positive reasons to move your body besides helping to tone your figure, I had to bring up the question—how much should you move your body every week?
Aim for 150 minutes a week.
According to the CDC, 150 minutes of “moderate-intensity aerobic activity” a week is enough exercise to take care of your body. To put this into perspective, going on a 30-minute walk with your dog each weekday (Monday through Friday) is enough to reach your activity goal. Seems pretty simple, right?
Different compared to what you may believe to be a “workout,” right? Culture has made us typically believe that workouts have to be a lot more intense than that. Running for a few miles, pumping iron in the gym, hitting a long ride at your local SoulCycle, all seem to be the types of workouts you would expect to do. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with these workouts (if you love them, do them!), we shouldn’t confine ourselves to thinking that these are the superior workouts. Moving your body in any way that gets your “large muscles moving in a rhythmic manner for a sustained period of time” is considered cardiovascular exercise, which is what you need, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
Personally, I aim to do my workouts during the weekdays. Between Monday and Friday, I will different types of workouts including lifting weights, pilates, yoga, HIIT, Barre, and even kickboxing from time to time. I wake up before work, do a 30-minute workout, down a protein shake, and start my day.
Choose movement you love to do.
“Moderate-intensity” exercise is defined by all kinds of things. The type of exercise you decide to participate in should be life-giving to you. Think about it—we all love to do the activities we love, right? So if there is a type of physical activity that you actually like, why not prioritize it regularly? If you love to swim, get a membership at a pool. If you love to bike or hike, start hitting the trails. If you love to roll out your mat and do some pilates or power vinyasa yoga flows, by all means, hit the mat. Whatever it is, you should love doing it. Because our bodies love moving, and we should love moving them.
The guidelines say that briskly walking does work, as well as playing a sport with friends (tennis, for example), or even doing yard work can count. But don’t feel confined to one idea! As I said, I do all kinds of workouts throughout the week, so feel free to mix and match.
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