If you follow the latest health research in the news, you know that some recommendations for staying healthy are easier to follow than others.
In my last blog posting, I discussed a recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association that found that women may need to do 60 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity to stay at a normal weight over the long term.
I hear what you're probably saying right now. Sixty minutes every day does sound like a considerable amount of time, and as a mom with several jobs that keep my days tightly scheduled, I too have trouble finding time to consistently get up and move around.
Nevertheless, I realize how important physical activity is for staying at a healthy weight, reducing stress, and keeping my body and mind working at their peak. I've had major back surgery, and all those hours I spent throughout my life working to stay fit undoubtedly helped me recuperate better from the procedure and preserve my mobility.
If you're having trouble envisioning how you can find the time or motivation to get adequate physical activity, keep these recommendations in mind:
• Stay moderate. The activities that this study promoted were moderate. You don't have to work up a soaking sweat or be left panting for breath in order to reap the benefits of activity. Nor do you have to do things that feel like out-and-out exercise. Here's what moderate activity could include, according to the National Institutes of Health: Walking at a 15-minute-per-mile pace, shooting basketballs through a hoop, playing volleyball, or pushing a stroller for a mile and a half in 30 minutes.
• Make it social. If you bring along a friend or your child, you may not even realize that you're getting exercise while you're visiting or playing. And remember this useful way to know if you're going at a moderate pace: You should be able to talk comfortably, but not sing.
• Remember the benefits. Although you may need an hour of activity daily to stay at a healthy weight, the health rewards of exercise begin more quickly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 150 minutes of aerobic and strength-training exercises weekly. Even this amount - a total of two and half hours weekly - can help:
Protect you from heart disease
Protect you from diabetes
Protect you from breast and colon cancer
Protect your bone health
Lower your risk of depression and help you sleep better
If your doctor could give you a pill that would do all these things, how much would you pay for it? If you're having trouble motivating yourself, think of physical activity as a must-have medicine that offers sweeping protection at little to no cost.
• Make it easier on yourself. If you're having trouble mustering the interest to get enough activity, ask yourself why. No time? Not enough energy? Your family keeps you too busy? These problems typically have solutions that just require some resourcefulness. Keep your walking shoes available so you can get in a brisk walk at a moment's notice on your lunch hour or after work. Remind yourself that exercise can improve your energy. Do activities that your family can enjoy together. Visit the CDC's website for more ideas.