A growing body of research adds up to an inevitable conclusion: When it comes to exercise, every little bit counts. Which is either good news or bad news for exercise haters and every person who has no time to get healthy.
For people who want to get healthier, lose weight, or improve a condition like high blood pressure, blood sugar control, or high cholesterol (and who doesn’t?) it means finding ways to add a few minutes of exercise throughout the day.
For true couch potatoes who only pay lip service to getting healthy and make excuses simply because they don’t want to admit it, the bad news is that no time for the gym has become a moot point.
Few things in life are a panacea for everything that ails you, but exercise is exactly that. Adding 30 minutes of exercise to your day will result in improved heart health, better respiratory function, deeper sleep, weight and fat loss, lower bad cholesterol, better blood sugar control, less stress, more happy and a 30% lower risk of post-menopausal breast cancer. It helps you retain your mental acuity as you age and, if you choose gentle exercises that improve flexibility, mitigate general aches and pains.
I know you’re excited, but before you jump off the couch, throw in a Zumba Fitness video, and wind up in the emergency room, let’s talk about the word “moderate.” Moderate exercises include things like walking the dog, gardening, doing housework, and taking the stairs. Start slow and build up a little more each day. When you’re ready, pick up the pace of your walk, park way out in the parking lot, or put on Chubby Checker loud enough to drown out the vacuum and twist the dirt away.
In the Office
Even in you’re stuck at a desk all day, the law says you’re entitled to breaks for a reason. Take yours outside. Getting outside has the added benefits of letting you soak up a little much-needed vitamin D from the sun and relieving eye strain from artificial lighting, so when you get back inside, you’ll feel refreshed and energized. At your next break, go into the bathroom and stretch or a few minutes. While you’re sitting at your desk, fidget. That’s right, fidgeting counts.
The Hard Part
Ok, you knew it was coming. Sweat. You need to raise your heart rate for at least 10 minutes once a day to really reap the benefits. The good news is that you can multitask while getting the sweaty part done. Some great activities for sustained aerobic activity include mowing the lawn, washing the car, scrubbing floors, and washing the windows. You’ll get a workout and cross things off your to-do list at the same time.
Make it Fun
Ten minutes is a great interval for getting in some exercise in a fun way. While the rice is cooking or the burgers are on the grill, you can dance, hula hoop, or shoot hoops with your kid in the driveway. After work, go to the batting cages and take out your frustrations on a helpless ball. After dinner, walk up to the corner frozen yogurt shop for dessert (isn’t there one on every corner?). Have sex. Lots of it; sex is great or revving up your heart and breaking a sweat.
Add it all up
The real point is to raise your awareness of movement. Writers (like me) sit all day, and often are so focused that they forget to take breaks. The opportunities and the time are there no matter how tight your deadline is or how critical the project. Don’t let stress and distraction stand in the way of a happy, healthy life. You don’t even have to buy spandex. Every move you make, every breath you take (deep ones, anyway) adds up. Adding just a little more can make a big difference in your life, your happiness, your future, and your health.