The most recent recommendations for physical activity suggest that we should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week to improve our health and reduce the risk of developing diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and osteoporosis.
Individuals 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 in addition to a balanced and nutritious diet. Remember that it’s 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 that lists the days and times that you plan on doing some sort of physical activity for the upcoming week. Write this down to make a personal contract with yourself. 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 since your exercise journey began.
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. 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.
Intensity is Good: As your fitness levels improve,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 environment. Check out https://ualr.edu/campuslife/recreation/fitwell-program/group-fitness/ for more information on our group classes on campus.
Start Slowly: If you are new to exercise, 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 of doing just 20 minutes of resistance exercise three times a week are impressive. Benefits include a faster metabolism and less risk of developing diabetes, osteoporosis, and hypertension. Your body has over 600 muscles, and they are designed to be used!
150+: Once you begin to regularly achieve your goal of 150 minutes of activity within a week, please feel free to go beyond that time. 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 probably 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.
This monthly health and wellness column was written by Campus Wellness Coordinator Karl Lenser.