By Anna L. Cleland, CSCS

 

It seems hard to think about fitting in extra things to do. We know there is already enough on our plate without the thought of having to spend time exercising, especially if you think you have to “hit the gym” to make it worth your time. Honestly, you do not have to go that far- you just have to move more.

Think less about exercise and more about activity. Although there are great benefits achieved when you are able to push your body and sustain a higher workload, there are also great benefits to any extra activity in your lifestyle.

Many people think that there has to be an ‘all or nothing’ approach for exercise to be worth it, however, making changes that you can maintain over your entire life will help you lose and maintain weight loss. Think about every time you have tried to start a new exercise program. Do you remember getting everything in order, working out hard, becoming sore and then not going back? Or having the determination to be able to do so well that you met your goal, but when you felt so great you slacked off and gained back your weight.  The little changes that you can maintain will overall be more effective than the ‘all or nothing’ approach, since you will be more likely to continue with them as a way of life.

National guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most if not all days of the week but most people rarely achieve this goal.  You technically need even more activity if you are aiming to lose weight. Research now says that without at least an hour of activity each day, we will more than likely gain weight as we age. While there are great benefits to longer sessions in your exercise efforts, even just 10 minutes can help to strengthen your heart. Exercise correlates mostly with someone’s ability to maintain weight loss, and less with actually losing weight.

But, what if you at least take credit for the activity that you are getting from your daily lifestyle? After all, there is a bigger difference in walking the dog and taking the stairs, than there is in grabbing the remote and watching hours of television or sitting in front of the computer. Count the activity you do by using a pedometer.  Aim for ten thousand or more steps each day. Remember that even those who are active as part of their workday may need to get more exercise if they have not been able to manage their weight from just the activity in their typical day.

Our bodies adapt to their expectations very well, and before you know it, you are years into your current lifestyle and your body will know exactly what to expect every day. Your body will perform to only what it needs to do to become most efficient. The number one reason to exercise is to increase your work capacity, which makes the rest of your day feel easier in comparison; the other reasons are just great side effects.

Strive to push yourself past what you are used to so you can be the best you possible! Remember your body is made to move! Now put some brain power behind sending positive messages and determine all of the ways you can begin and maintain an active, fit lifestyle.