Living in Northern VA can leave little time for anything besides work, commuting, family, and day-to-day responsibilities. We all know that we are supposed to get at least some form of exercise on a daily basis, but how many people are actually able to squeeze this into their hectic schedules?
I can speak from experience. I am an avid marathon runner and was used to being able to run 6 days a week after work. After starting a new job that required longer hours, it became apparent very early on that adjustments would have to be made. It’s all about figuring out a routine that you can manage for the long term. And, when that routine changes, being able to develop a new routine.
The benefits of regular exercise are endless. People who exercise regularly have lower incidences of heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and depression. They also have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and stress levels. And, they ultimately live longer than their non-exercising counterparts.
The recommended daily amount of exercise is equivalent to 30 minutes most days of the week. Contrary to popular belief, the 30 minutes does not have to be all at once. Three 10 minute sessions are just as beneficial as 30 minutes all at once!
In order to reap the benefits of exercise, you should feel your heart rate elevated to the point that it is difficult to carry on a conversation for some part of the exercise session. Incorporate short bursts of high intensity exercise (called interval training) into your workout sessions, followed by a recovery period to bring your heart rate back down.
There are many ways to get 30 minutes of exercise in each day. Here are some suggestions that may help you:
- Park the farthest spot away when running errands
- Walk to the grocery store
- Take a walk after dinner with your family
- Get a pet that won’t let you forget to go take a walk
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Get up from your desk to talk to someone rather than sending an email
- Bring workout clothes to work with you, so you’re ready to go rather than having to go home first
- Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier each morning for a quick run or home DVD series…do in 10 minute increments until your body has adjusted
- Bring a small set of weights and exercise ball to the office for short bursts of exercise, and sit on the exercise ball at your desk
- Do crunches or lunges while watching TV
- Schedule a date with friends that includes running, biking, or hiking rather than happy hour
And, don’t forget weight training! Weight training is just as important for health as cardiovascular exercise. It increases lean muscle mass, which decreases the risk of heart disease. It also means that you burn more calories throughout the day, even when resting.
Set small goals for yourself, so you’re not overwhelmed by the big picture. Give yourself rewards for achieving these goals with a massage, pedicure, or new article of clothing rather than a food reward.
But most important of all….find an exercise that you enjoy doing, or you won’t stick with it! Whether it be dancing, swimming, kickboxing, hiking, biking, rollerblading, walking, running, group fitness classes, Zumba, or yoga – really, the opportunities are endless!
Check out the Fitness section of our Web site to see what exercise options we have available here at The Medical Spa at Nova and also a map of local fitness centers in the area. There’s also an Exercise and Activity Browser and Calorie Calculator that will give you an idea of how many calories you’d burn doing varying exercises. Have Fun!
-Posted by Erica Schuman, MSN, FNP