To take charge of your health we have established that it is better (easier) to use the “A” word instead of the “E” word (Activity vs. Exercise). And we need to get moving every day, especially if we have been sitting or standing around most of the time and have gained a few pounds as we’ve grown older. So how do we think about what we need to do to feel and be healthier.
Fitness is the answer!! Our goal is to increase our fitness. Research has shown that fit men and women of all ages have stronger hearts with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease–that means less chance of a heart attack. This also means higher quality of life, which in my book equates with happiness!!
I recommend a simple method to get fit and maintain your fitness and here it is:
Do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most (five or more) days of the week.
Let’s examine this prescription for fitness a little closer. The italics highlight three important steps here.
- Do 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Research has shown that you don’t even need to do it all at one time. You can split it up into 2-15 minute periods or even 3-10 minute periods.
- Choose moderate-intensity activities. Moderate-intensity physical activities are equal in effort to a brisk walk, walking a mile in 15-20 minutes. If you walk, you may need to work yourself up to speed in this case. But in general, this is a healthy pace. However, you can do other moderate-intensity activities like: Bicycling (10-12 mph), dancing, gardening and yard work, golfing (without a cart), hiking, playing actively with children, raking leaves, playing volleyball, or even washing and waxing your car.
- Be active most days of the week. If you can be active to this level every day, then that is GREAT! But research has shown that you can achieve fitness by being physically active as little as 5 days per week.
Remember the most important way to achieve fitness, as in any skill, is to practice, practice, practice!!! The activity outlined here is simple. But the hard part is to DO IT!!! Get started and don’t stop! Make it a part of your daily life. Commit your self to a life of active living and you will experience a long , happy, healthy life!
NOTE: Research supporting this model of fitness was reported by Steven Blair and colleagues at the Cooper Institute, Dallas, Texas.