Did you know that there is an official physical activity recommendation for all Americans? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published their most recent guidelines in 2018 and they are very reasonable and attainable. Here they are… and keep reading for ideas on what this could look like for you.
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2018):
👍 150-300 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity
👍 75-150 minutes per week of vigorous intensity activity
👍 Twice each week do something that involves strength training of all the major muscle groups (resistance bands, lifting weights, moving your own body weight, or weight machines)
👍 Aerobic activity is best when it is spread throughout the week, rather than done all at once
👍 Something is better than nothing! It’s okay to start small and work your way up towards the guidelines.
There are many amazing benefits to moving your body more…
Lower all cause mortality. I think this is the most amazing benefit of all… you increase your chances of living a longer life. Wow!
Lower diabetes risk – better glucose control and increased insulin sensitivity. This is super important if you have, or are at risk of, type II diabetes.
Lower cardiovascular risk. We all have risk of cardiovascular disease because it is the number one killer of Americans.
Better mental health. You KNOW you feel better after you complete some exercise. Admit it. Plus, it helps you to sleep better which makes you feel more energetic during the day.
Musculoskeletal health improvements. Better posture. Better core strength. Better strength and endurance to do hard things.
A feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction in knowing you are taking good care of yourself. You get to pat yourself on the back!
What do these guidelines look like in REAL life?
Let’s get creative because those 150 minutes don’t have to be spent in a gym (can we even go to gyms yet during this Pandemic?) and no money is required for most activities.
This is what it could look like for you if you are…
A college student: walk to classes from the dorm or from the car – maybe take the long way back to add some steps, on the weekend go for a walk/jog/hike with a friend, 10 pushups and try to do a pull-up or a handstand each day, standing crunches for abs and balance while waiting for your online food order, join an intramural sport (pickup basketball games are great fun) or take yoga classes once those are available, swim, learn to downhill ski or snowboard this Winter (maybe you can get a price break through your university)
A parent with young children: put the non-walkers in a stroller or a backpack and get outdoors for walks every day (bundle up!), hold a child and do walking lunges around the house, stretch and do floor exercises while the kids and dogs climb over you (it’s part of the challenge to be able to hold a plank with a dog licking you and a child riding you like a horse), dance to your favorite song, learn a TikTok dance with your older children, challenge your teens to Dance Dance or Wii Tennis, give a child a piggy back ride and see if you can go longer as you get stronger, have your spouse take a child-care turn while you walk with a grown-up or do a solo walk with an audiobook (or silence)
An older adult: walk, walk, and walk some more, practice a daily balance exercise (see Dr. Amy’s YouTube video for instructions below), lift hand weights or cans of soup over your head and also do walking lunges with weights in your hands, practice staying strong on stairs and lifting/pushing/pulling things in the garden, play pickleball or tennis, dance!, offer to give the young parents a break and push the grandkids in a stroller around a park, do pushups against a picnic table at the park, stretch and work on staying tall in your posture, try a Tai Chi class online for free, dust off your cross country ski gear or snowshoes and get ready to be active even in the Winter
Use your imagination. Don’t make it overly complicated. Have fun. The bottom line is that you need to move your body at a moderate intensity for at least 2 & 1/2 hours each week and twice a week you need to lift or move heavy things to stay strong. Easy peasy. Make it fun so you will WANT to do it!