How much time do you spend considering, “How can I improve my health?”
Reality check — I know I am guilty of investing more time than I would like to admit fixated on “How can I look stronger, fitter, thinner,…?” But truly at this time, I want to focus on – What would make me healthier?
I love this meme:
There is so much truth in this meme. But just like many simplistic statements about complex issues, there are limitations. In My Love of Greens, we touched on Good Diet, but even that was simplistic, in that we only focused on fruit and vegetable intake — not a well-rounded diet.
Today, let’s delve into “Exercise.” What does that really mean? How much? What kind?
Many of us are aware of the recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA) about physical activity:
I think many of us can understand those recommendations and even explain the potential benefits:
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (reduced heart attack and stroke)
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Reduced risk of cancers
- Weight control
- Strengthen bones and muscles
- Improve your ability to perform daily tasks safely, without injury (including reduced falls)
- Improved mental health and mood
- Improved chances of living longer
It’s important to note that the AHA is quick to point out that “Something is better than nothing.” So cool! You can also add 10 minutes a day of activity to your routine and this helps! So perhaps the meme should say “Activity” rather than “Exercise.” There is value to just moving during your day. I love this concept — any of us can improve our health just by moving more. That could mean dancing in the kitchen while preparing dinner or taking a loop around the grocery store before grabbing a cart to start shopping. Moving more might mean transitioning from a routine, leisurely walk after dinner to intentionally walking briskly up a hill every day. For others, moving more might translate to going to a group fitness class to work with an instructor who helps us to move in a more efficient, safe manner with the goal to achieve improved strength, flexibility & cardiovascular fitness. This rule of thumb of just moving more is so inclusive — it can work for any of us, no matter our starting point.
So — I guess the key here is to evaluate: Where am I currently with my activity level? Am I meeting the AHA physical activity recommendations? If not, what can I do to improve my level of activity? Taking into consideration the presence of any injuries, as well as current health, what is a realistic goal to increase my activity? How can I fit this into my schedule? Who can I lean on for support as I try to make this change?
If you find your answers and come up with a plan, go for it! And be sure to let us know how you are doing.
If obstacles creep up, I would love to hear about them. What is it that prevents you from increasing your daily activity? I am truly interested in hearing from you. As Niki and I said in our first blog, “This is a no-judgement zone. We are here to listen and learn.” I look forward to hearing from you and learning with you.