150 in the 501

by Karl Lenser
May 19, 2016

The most recent recommendations for the amount of physical activity needed per week indicate that we should accumulate 150 minutes of physical activity weekly to improve our health and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis.

Adults who are active will also notice that they sleep better, have more energy and experience fewer illnesses. The good news is that individuals of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels can reap the dozens of benefits from adopting an active lifestyle and a nutritious diet. Remember that is it never too late to get moving and improving! Here are 10 tips on how to become more active.

Set a goal. Establish a plan on Sunday to plan out the week and write this down to make a personal contract. Record your steps, mileage and all physical activity in a journal or on your electronic tracking device. It’s helpful to look back at your activity to see how you have progressed, and recording the data is uplifting and rewarding.

Mix it up. Try to add different activities to stay fresh physically and mentally. Avoid getting bored with the same old routine. The more activities you enjoy, the better.

Create ways to move. Try to find ways to move and burn calories throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Park further away from the store when you go shopping. Take your dog out for a walk, as they need exercise, too. Wash the car by hand and save some money at the same time. If the weather is conducive, go for a walk during your breaks during the workday (who really needs to spend an entire 60 minutes eating lunch?). The little chunks of calorie-burning activities add up. Something is better than nothing.

Get intense. Don’t be afraid to ramp up the intensity when you walk, cycle, swim, etc. Your heart will become stronger and you will burn more calories as well. Your body will adapt to the increased workload that you give it. This is why group exercise classes are helpful because most folks will work harder if they are in a class situation.

Start slowly. If you are a beginner to being physically active, be sure to start slowly so you reduce the chance of getting injured. As the weeks continue, gradually increase the time of activity and the number of minutes per week until you eventually achieve the 150-minute goal. Be patient with yourself and don’t force the activity. Rome was not built in a day!

Muscle up. The benefits for doing just 20 minutes of resistance exercise three times a week are impressive. Benefits include a faster metabolism and less risk for diabetes, osteoporosis and hypertension. Basic push-ups and some abdominal crunches will get you started. You may also consider investing in resistance bands, as they are inexpensive and very effective in helping improve strength and joint flexibility. Your body has more than 600 muscles and they are designed to be used!

Once you begin to regularly achieve your goal of 150 minutes of activity within a week, please feel free to go for 175 or 200 minutes. Studies show that your risk for certain chronic diseases declines as your fitness level increases. Be sure to gradually increase your weekly activity time to minimize the risk for an injury.

Partner up! Working out with someone greatly increases the chances for becoming a consistent exerciser. Find a walking buddy at church or in the office. If you own a dog, then he/she can become your walking partner. Another great way to help keep you going is to try some group exercise classes. Accountability is powerful!

Progression.  As you become fitter and more comfortable with exercising, consider going from walking to jogging or simply increasing the pace on a bike ride, or even join a cycling club or running club. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.

FUN FACTOR.  If the activity is not enjoyable, you won’t stick with it. Find things you like to do and be consistent. Explore new group exercise classes or try hiking in a park you have not been to before. Find your activity niche and stick with it.