I think we all know the benefits of exercise. It’s like a magic elixir that wipes away stress, boosts mood, improves sleep and generally enhances all aspect of living. For me, exercise has always been part of my life. In fact, I couldn’t imagine not doing it.
Adapting my exercise routine over the decades
Over the decades, my exercise routine has changed. For much of my adult life, one of my favorite activities was running, and I was always eager to compete in a marathon whether for a good cause or just for fun. Running fit well into my lifestyle. All I needed was a good pair of shoes and a pair of shorts. I could run just about anywhere, whether I was at home or traveling. But as I’ve aged, my knee joints have been less forgiving of the intense training needed for long-distance running.
So, I adapted.
Today, I start my day with a Pilates routine. During the day, Francesca and I get in a couple of walking or hiking sessions. (She’s been busy getting in over 10,000 steps a day). We generally walk once in the morning and then again in the afternoon. It feels great to be out in the fresh air, while being mindful to keep physically distant from others who are doing the same.
The serious benefits of moving just a little more
Increasing your activity level doesn’t have to be a Herculean effort. If you’re conjuring up images of lifting heavy weights in a sweaty gym or jogging mile after mile around a track or spending hours on long, grueling cycling rides, relax! The “no pain, no gain” philosophy is old news. Current research confirms that you can improve overall health and fitness when you move just a little more in your daily life.
It’s that simple.
Just aim to move a little more today than you did yesterday.Plus, increasing your activity as you go about your day is a great way to ease into more structured physical activities such as walking, jogging, swimming, resistance training or stretching.
Going from good to better
While increasing your daily activity is a good start, you may be inspired to do more. If so, you may want to know that fitness experts typically recommend most adults get regular physical activity throughout the week.
If you prefer moderate-intensity activity like brisk walking, the experts recommend you aim for 30 to 60 minutes, five times each week. “Brisk” walking means you can talk comfortably, but can’t sing. If you prefer vigorous activity such as jogging or running, aim for 75 to 150 minutes a week.
Of course, you can always do a combination of moderate and vigorous activities. It’s all a matter of preference.
Don’t forget to include some muscle-building activities that involve all major muscle groups. Experts recommend you aim for at least moderate intensity activities at least two days a week.1
My choice? Pilates, every morning.
Simply solutions to fit exercise into any busy day
It seems we’re all busy and getting busier. But a hectic schedule doesn’t have to stop you from getting enough exercise. The way to fit exercise into an already busy day is to make it a priority. When you do this, you’ll be amazed at how your exercise routine will then fall into place.
Need some inspiration to get started? Here are six surefire ways to fit exercise into any busy lifestyle.
- Exercise in small chunks of time. Squeeze 15 minutes of exercise in before work and another 15 minutes later in the day. Even these small amounts of physical activity add up over the course of the day.
- Embrace more physical activity throughout your daily routine. Try parking your car at the far end of a parking lot or a few blocks from your destination. Walk rather than drive whenever possible. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Do two things at once. Watch television and stretch. Walk and talk business. Read and cycle on the stationary bicycle.
- Gardening and housework can be great exercise. Turn on some music and dance your way to a cleaner home and neater yard! Be creative and think how to turn some of your tasks into a workout.
- Schedule your exercise. Just like an appointment, schedule in your exercise time and, more importantly, keep it.
- Find an activity you enjoy. There is a much greater chance that you will make time for activity when it’s something you like. Brisk walking, jogging, swimming, tennis, biking, hiking, yoga and tai chi are a few great choices. Explore and find activities that you really enjoy. Then, make them a regular part of your life. You will be glad you did.
Of course, my morning isn’t complete without my Pilates routine. You can check out my routine here, including the kneeling clam (#15 in my routine). It’s my favorite stretch. Most people don’t do it, but it is really important to help loosen up the psoas muscle—a deep seated core muscle that connects the torso with the leg.
Here’s to the best of health.
I’ll be cheering you on!
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- Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd ed. Department of Health & Humans Services, 2018. https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf.