Friday, October 19, 2012

In Our Time-Crunched World, What Counts as Exercise?

A simple walk?  Dancing with your little one?  Cartwheels on the lawn?

Yes to all of the above!
I had the "what counts as exercise" discussion with a time-starved mother the other day.  She lamented the fact she didn't have to exercise and she was desperately looking to drop the fat that she couldn't lose almost 18 months after giving birth.  She was shocked that I work out at least five days a week, work full time and have an 11-month old at home.  I've said time and again I exercise in place of going to therapy because nothing makes me feel better.  I'm not spending hours at the gym.  It's 30 minutes to an hour tops, many times just a quick half-hour.

Much of her issue has to do with diet but she feels as if she doesn't have enough time to devote a simple 30 minutes a day to some form of exercise, which in turn, means herself.

I had to cry BS.  Of course she does.  We make time for what we prioritize and, while she has a full schedule, she can definitely carve out a block to focus on her health.  The Department of Health and Human Services suggests 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, as well as strength training twice a week.

150 minutes equates to 30 minutes five times a week.  Anyone can do that without a gym.  Go a little more intense to shorten the time.  Here are some examples of moderate activity:
  • A brisk walk, kick it up a notch by pushing that kid in a stroller.  Try walking briskly up some hills.
  • Dancing with your kids.  Ever try to do the Chicken Dance for 30 minutes?  Yeah, killer workout.  Seriously.
  • When was the last time you played on a playground or took a ride in a swing?  That counts, too.
  • Mowing the lawn, cleaning the house.
For more vigorous options try a combination of running, jumping rope and jumping jacks.  You can also incorporate exercise apps.  I recently professed my love for the Nike Training Club app and finally did an advanced workout without feeling the need to puke.  I also use Pocket Yoga HD and Air Boxing.  Nike Training Club is free while the other two apps cost $1.99 each, I believe.  I also have pilates workouts from ExerciseTV, which is now available on Hulu, on my IPad that I use all the time. 

If you're just looking to start toning and get a bit stronger, push-ups, squats and dips are the perfect way to start.  Spend some time stretching.  Flexibility, in my opinion, is the fountain of youth.

One crazy tip: do 10-20 squats every time you get up to use the restroom at work or home.  You'll get the blood pumping.  I do it in-studio sometimes in breaks during the hour-long Fan Sports Show on TXA21.  The floor crew giggles but the squats are an instant energy boost.

In my experience, simply getting the blood going, experiencing the fresh air and noticing your clothes fitting a bit looser are motivation to move more.  No matter how busy you are or how much the kids are driving you crazy, getting those vital 30 minutes of "me-time" will reap benefits in all areas of your life.
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