Some physical activity is better than none

16 12 2010
Sean Fitzpatrick

Sean Fitzpatrick

Being active is a key component in the weight loss process. Being active to many people means getting into the gym: using a treadmill, a bike, or lifting weights. This type of activity, or exercise, is very important, otherwise it would not be a requirement of the weight management program! However, activity can come in many other forms that can also be beneficial.

The American College of Sports Medicine, which is the premier US organization for fitness related research, recommends that individuals trying to lose weight be active for 45-60 minutes most days of the week. For most of us, getting into the gym for an hour 5 to 6 times a week is a tall task. This is why it is important to realize that activity can come in other forms.

Exercising for an hour at the gym is a great work out. But what if I told you taking six 10 minute walks can ALSO count for an hour of activity? Now obviously you’ll burn more calories at the gym, but if you can’t get in to the gym on a particular day, still being active can go a long way. For instance, if you can find six times throughout your week to take a short walk – for just 10 minutes each time- in a month you would have burned an extra 900 calories. In a year, this would be over 10,000 calories or 3 lbs of weight loss! In addition, it is also important to realize that other activities can count as well, for instance, playing with grandchildren, cleaning the house, or gardening. To help understand the level of activity that you need to engage in for these activities, next time you’re at the gym, walk on a treadmill at a setting equal to approximately 3.0 miles an hour—this is the level of effort needed for an activity to “count.”

Even if you cannot find 10 straight minutes to be active, moving for even one or two minutes can have numerous benefits. Sitting for long periods of time has been shown to be related to numerous poor health conditions. So even if you cannot get up and walk for 10 minutes, try to do even a little bit. A great habit to practice is anytime you find yourself sitting for two hours, get up and stretch for one or two minutes. This helps to not only wake up your body but it can help energize your mind as well! Take a walk to the water fountain, the farthest restroom in your building, or an extra lap around the block with your dog. Park farther away, take the stairs, do pushups or sit-ups during TV commercial breaks.

Nothing replaces a good workout at your exercise facility, but every little bit counts! Small changes fit everyone’s crazy lifestyle, and these small changes build momentum so you can reach your big goals. So get up and get moving even if it is just for a minute or two.

by Sean Fitzpatrick, Health Behavior Counselor

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