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Adding Even More Exercise?

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As most of you already know, we are all supposed to get the recommended amount of exercise, which is 150 minutes a week or 30 minutes/five days a week.  How are you doing?

One of the biggest obstacles I see with individuals and groups with whom I work is the ability to commit this much time to exercise.  We are creatures of habit and if we aren’t already carving out the time to move and exercise, changing your schedule to do so is very difficult.

Well, now the recommendation has gone up to 300 minutes per week.  A new study released last week by JAMA Oncology found a group of postmenopausal women had more significant fat loss when exercising at a moderate intensity (walking, biking less than 10mph, water aerobics) at least 300 minutes a week over a group that did the same but only 150 minutes a week, which has been the standing recommendation for years.

And those women in the 300-minute group only lost – get this – 1% body fat more than the 150-minute group.  That’s a modest change for such an increase in time!

We can all agree that the more we move our bodies, the better.  We are made to move and we humans suffer more problems when we are sedentary.  That is a fact.  But how do we realistically set aside time –42.8 minutes a day– when we have jobs, kids, book club and other important things in our life?

First and foremost it’s important to distinguish the difference between exercise and activity level.  Exercise, in my opinion, is time set aside specifically for exercise and should include both moderate and vigorous levels of activity where your heart rate changes.  Activity level is the overall amount of movement you have throughout your day.  All exercise is activity but not all activity is exercise.  Make sense?

You can accumulate 300 minutes a week of moderate intensity, which means walking, gardening, taking the stairs, etc. by increasing your daily activity level.  Add a ten minute walk when you wake up, after lunch and after dinner each day.  Wearing a pedometer is also a great way to gauge your activity level.  Set goals each day based on your schedule and aim to reach a certain number of steps or mileage for the week.

Next, losing weight or any other wellness goal really requires a comprehensive approach.  In the study, the women were asked to maintain the same level of intensity and not to change their diet.  Folks, diet is far more important than your activity level in terms of body composition and changing your weight.  You can exercise until the cows come home but if you’re not addressing your diet, your weight and body fat change will eventually plateau.  Also, stress and sleep play a huge role in your weight and body composition.  Even if you’re eating well and exercising and you’re under chronic stress (the type that makes life unmanageable) and/or not getting enough sleep you will not gain the same results.  Stress and lack of sleep wreak havoc on the body and undermine other healthy efforts.

The Five Pillars of Wellness:  activity level, nutrition, stress management, mindfulness and support system were created based on the reality that wellness is big picture.  It’s about your overall lifestyle rather than changing just one area.  Your success is far greater when your wellness plan is balanced and varied and includes all aspects of your life.  And wellness, of course, is an inside job.  You have to change the inside before you have success on the outside.

Lastly, we make time for what’s important.  If you don’t believe that exercise and activity level are important enough then you won’t find time to do it.  We make time rather than find time.  Any person’s life can be reconfigured to accommodate a healthy lifestyle change.

If you’re looking to make a change in your life it starts with honest self inventory and assessment, a plan and support/accountability.

Now let’s all stand up and get that extra 10-minute walk!

To see the clip of my interview, click here:  KDKA News