We all know exercise is good for us, and that there is cold hard science behind why this is true. Over the few of weeks, the media has released some hard hitting stories backed up by statistics about why, how, when and what kind of exercise we should be doing. Brass tax: it all supports increased daily activity.

Research is showing that even if you spend an hour at the gym every day, that alone is not enough. We can’t undo in 1 hour what we do for the other 23 hours a day. Increasing our activity across the board is essential to our health and wellness.

Your time at the gym still matters

Cardiovascular, strength and conditioning and movement/range of motion/stretching work are all still very much the pillars of a balanced fitness program. Intensity matters, and continually challenging yourself to make fitness gains in these three areas is important. Research supports that the higher the METs (A MET is the ratio of energy expended during an activity to energy expended while sitting motionless) of your exercise, the better you’ll fare in the case of cardiovascular disease. (The study used heart attack outcomes as their measured variable, but to me the message relates to overall health at any age.)

“Your baseline fitness now predicts your survival of that first heart attack. That’s an important message,” said Blaha who recently published a study showing that the intensity of your exercise routine determines how you’ll fare in case of a heart attack.

Only 50 percent of American adults get at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, which is the current recommendation. And while exercise is known to improve health, less people implement it than other known health improvers such as not smoking, being overweight and getting adequate sleep.

But gym time isn’t enough

“The bad news is that exercise isn’t enough. You also have to stop sitting around when you’re not exercising. It turns out that sedentary behavior — defined as anything that takes less than 1.5 METs of effort — increases the risk of cardiovascular disease even if a person gets enough exercise…

The average American spends more than half of all waking hours in sedentary behavior, principally commuting or sitting in front of a computer screen or television. There are no government guidelines on the matter, but some experts say 10,000 footsteps a day — the equivalent of five miles of walking — should be the goal. (That would more than satisfy the exercise recommendation if done briskly enough.)”

Check out the full article as it appeared in the Washington Post.

5 everyday activities to improve health and increase activity level

Here are five simple things you can incorporate throughout your day to increase your overall activity level. The biggest key to success is to set the intention every day and have a plan so you remember to incorporate movement opportunities when they arise.

  1. Take the stairs whenever you can.
    Bonus: Add an extra set up and down with an increased pace.
  2. Walk whenever you can.
    Bonus #1: Include brief bursts of increased speed on longer walks.
    Bonus #2: Choose fresh air and an evening stroll after dinner.
  3. Carry your groceries to the car in sturdy bags instead of pushing them in a cart.
    Bonus: Add an extra bicep curl when loading them into the trunk.
  4. Spend time outside in your garden.
    Bonus: Use a frog type squat to minimize forward hunching. Take a bonus squat every time you need to get low.
  5. Play with your kids at the park instead of watching from the sidelines. Incorporate monkey bars, balance beams, swings and jumping.
    Bonus: freeze tag.

Bonus add-on: Set your alarm clock 10 minutes earlier and incorporate 10 minutes of stretching in the morning as you start your day.


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