Move More — Overcoming Exercise Hurdles
Adapted from July Consumer Reports on Health
Most American adults don’t get the recommended levels of physical activity, despite benefits including better sleep, weight management and lowered risk of chronic disease. If barriers are keeping you from regular activity, learn how to overcome the barriers and be the boss of your activity level.
Remember the Centers for Disease Control recommend the equivalent of 30 minutes of brisk activity 5 days a week, plus strength training for all major muscle groups twice a week.
“I never have enough time”
This is the most frequent response from people who don’t get enough physical activity. People who do get the recommended activity levels find time by making exercise a priority and by fitting in to things they’re already doing.
One way to start is by changing your daily routine to add more activity. Get off the bus a few stops early, bike part of the way to work, take the stairs, or park further away when you grocery shop or run errands. A few minutes every day can really add up, and you won’t have to find a block of time to change clothes and go to the gym.
Research shows that activity in several 10 minute bursts can be as beneficial as 30 minutes together. So if you can’t find 30 minutes to go for a run, take a brisk walk during your lunch break.
“I’m too old to start now”
It’s never too late to start exercising. No matter how old you are, your muscles can respond to training. Research showed that men and women in their 80s and older who started training gained strength as quickly as younger adults did.
If you are a man over 45 or a woman over 55 and haven’t been moving much, you should check with a medical professional for advice before jumping into a vigorous workout routine. But starting slowly and taking precautions such as stopping if you feel faint or have pain is good advice for anyone beginning an exercise routine.
“My health isn’t good enough”
Exercise is a proven treatment for depression, high blood pressure, diabetes and many other common problems. In a clinic trail involving people with osteoarthritis of the knee, patients who were training with weights had 50% less pain and could walk twice as fast on uneven ground as those who did no training.
Very few health issues are severe enough to make exercise problematic. Even people with heart disease can safely exercise – in fact supervised aerobics and strength training are common elements of rehabilitation after heart attack.
Like with any other risk factor, check with a medical professional and start slowly to avoid injury. Then stick with it.
“I’m too tired for exercise”
It might seem counter-intuitive to move more when you’re tired. But lots of studies have found that including regular exercise in a routine can combat exhaustion.
Aerobic activity helps to boost your metabolism, elevate your mood and improve your sex life. It can also help you sleep. And strength training can help make everyday tasks less tiring including hauling groceries inside, doing yard work and running after the kids.
One study found that continuously fatigued young adults who participated in 20 minutes of light to moderate activity three times a week had a 20% boost in their energy level compared to the group who didn’t exercise.
“I’m not overweight – what’s the point?”
Exercise isn’t just about weight control. Even people at healthy weights need exercise to help prevent heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and premature death. In activity is about as high a risk factor for heart disease as smoking is. In fact, in a studies of people aged 60 and older, inactive people at healthy body weights who were not fit were more likely to die earlier than participants who were obese but exercised enough to maintain aerobic fitness.
“It’s too painful”
About half of older adults list musculo-skeletal issues as a reason for not exercising. But exercise can help alleviate these same issues. Exercise doesn’t have to be painful to be effective. If joint pain is an issue, try water aerobics or recumbent bicycles – these can help reduce pressure on the joints. One study engaged fibromyalgia patients in a yoga program. Participants could do the exercises, and reported significant improvements in pain level, fatigue, stiffness, depression, anxiety, and were able to sleep better.
Remember that little movements add up to healthier behavior. Moving More is an investment in your health.
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