Get Moving!

Why Start?

Your body was designed to move. Call it exercise if you wish, but Healthy YOU prefers to call it "movement." Purposeful movement with the goal of building the healthiest body and mind possible is key in this program. You will begin to understand this inherent preference for movement once you get moving! If this is already part of your life, the goal is to keep moving while challenging yourself to new heights!

According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines, regular physical activity promotes the following health benefits:

  1. Lower risk of:
    • Early death
    • Heart disease
    • Stroke
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • Metabolic syndrome
    • Colon and breast cancers
  2. Prevention of weight gain
  3. Weight loss when combined with diet
  4. Improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness
  5. Prevention of falls
  6. Reduced depression
  7. Better cognitive function (older adults)

Exercise Recommendations

For health benefits, the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends adults get at least:

  • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week
  • OR

  • 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week

For even GREATER health benefits, adults should increase their activity to:

  • 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week
  • OR

  • 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week

Using a Pedometer
Are you more motivated by using a pedometer to track your steps versus counting minutes of exercise? You're in luck! Healthy YOU has a way for you to track that too!

A pedometer is a small device worn on your waist that counts the number of steps you take. There are now some studies suggesting that walking 10,000 steps a day (the equivalent of approximately 5 miles) is the right ballpark to be in for better health and weight control.

Because pedometers count actual steps during activities such as walking, jogging or running, they aren't practical for other forms of movement like biking or swimming. If you enjoy participating in these activities, you will have to count minutes of exercise instead of steps.

Physical Activity Recommendations When Using a Pedometer:
10,000 steps a day
5 days per week

If you aren't currently participating in any physical activity, don't get discouraged-just get moving! Even if you only log 2000 steps a day, start out walking three days a week for 20 minutes each session. It's important to work with your current level of physical activity and resist the temptation to compare yourself with others who may be at a higher level.

Aerobic Activity-What Counts?

Aerobic activity or "cardio" gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster. From pushing a lawn mower, to taking a dance class, to biking to the store - all types of activities count. As long as you're doing them at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 10 minutes at a time.

Light, Moderate and Vigorous Intensity Aerobic Activities:
Intensity is how hard your body is working during aerobic activity.

  • For most people, light daily activities such as shopping, cooking, or doing the laundry doesn't count toward the guidelines. Why? Your body isn't working hard enough to get your heart rate up.

  • Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you're working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell is that you'll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song. Here are some examples of activities that require moderate effort:
    • Walking fast
    • Doing water aerobics
    • Riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
    • Playing doubles tennis
    • Pushing a lawn mower

    NOTE: If you want to do more vigorous-level activities, slowly replace those that take moderate effort like brisk walking, with more vigorous activities like jogging.

  • Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity means you're breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you're working at this level, you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. Here are some examples of activities that require vigorous effort:
    • Jogging or running
    • Swimming laps
    • Riding a bike fast or on hills
    • Playing singles tennis
    • Playing basketball

In Healthy YOU, you will be challenged to log between 150 to 300 minutes of physical activity each week. Whether moderate or vigorous, choose the intensity level most appropriate for you.

Get Started!

If you are thinking that 150 minutes a week sounds like a lot-don't worry, you don't have to do it all at once! Not only is it best to spread your activity out during the week, you can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. As long as you're doing your activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time. Each of the following scenarios add up to 150 minutes:

  • Walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week = 150 minutes
  • Taking three-10 minute walks a day, five days a week = 150 minutes
  • Playing basketball for 60 minutes, two days and riding your bike for 30 minutes one day = 150 minutes

Here are some simple steps to help you move on a more regular basis:

  • Print to a different printer. Try printing to a printer located further away from your work area. Consider printing one floor up or down and take the stairs.
  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Every time you change floors, use the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park at a remote parking lot and walk to the office. The further away you park, the more activity you can include in your day.
  • Walk and talk. Have a walking meeting or step in place while talking on the phone.
  • Start meetings with 5-10 minutes of stretching or activity, or add in stretch or activity time mid-way through long meetings.
  • Do 60 to 90-second standing breaks for every hour you sit.
  • Keep a set of hand weights by your desk. Use them 3-4 times a day for muscle strengthening.

To accumulate at least ten minutes of physical activity to help meet the Guidelines:

  • Organize walking meetings - keep a brisk, walking pace for at least 10 minutes.
  • Get off one stop early. If you take public transportation to or from work, get off one stop early and walk the rest.
  • Use your breaks - take a 10-15 minute walk with a colleague during your break or lunch time.
  • Consider a lunch hour physical activity program.

Build the Habit

Once you get into the habit of a regular exercise routine, you won't feel right not doing it! But how exactly do you build that habit? Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Buddy up! Find an exercise buddy and work out with him or her at scheduled times each week. You'll be much less likely to skip when your friend is counting on you.
  • Set realistic goals and celebrate small victories. If you're just starting out, it doesn't make sense to commit to a 10k race does it? Start at your current fitness level and write your goals down.
  • Schedule it on your calendar in advance. Treat exercise time like you would a doctor's appointment.
  • Set yourself up to workout. Lay your exercise clothes on your bed where you can see them or bring them to work with you. That way, all you have to do is get dressed and work out. No excuses!
  • Have a 'Plan B.' If you aren't likely to walk in the rain or snow, have a back-up plan in place. Join your local recreation center or YMCA or rent some exercise DVD's from the library!
  • Make sure you enjoy it. Dancing, walking, gardening, yoga, playing basketball-these all count as exercise. Choosing activities you like makes it easier to build the habit.

What about resistance training?

Besides aerobic activity, you need to do things to strengthen your muscles at least 2 days a week. These activities should work all the major muscle groups of your body (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms).

To gain health benefits, muscle-strengthening activities need to be done to the point where it's hard for you to do another repetition without help. A repetition is one complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing a sit-up. Try to do 8-12 repetitions per activity that count as 1 set. Try to do at least 1 set of muscle-strengthening activities, but to gain even more benefits, do 2 or 3 sets.

You can do activities that strengthen your muscles on the same or different days that you do aerobic activity, whatever works best. Just keep in mind that muscle-strengthening activities don't count toward your aerobic activity total.

There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it's at home or the gym. You may want to try the following:

  • Lifting weights
  • Working with resistance bands
  • Doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance (i.e., push ups, sit ups)
  • Heavy gardening (i.e., digging, shoveling)
  • Yoga

How to Fit It All In

If you're thinking, "How can I meet the guidelines each week?" don't worry. You'll be surprised by the variety of activities you have to choose from. To meet the guidelines for aerobic activity, basically anything counts, as long as it's done at a moderate- or vigorous-intensity for at least 10 minutes at a time.

By picking physical activities you enjoy and that match your abilities, it will help ensure that you stick with them. If you're not sure where to start, here are some examples:

Example 1: Moderate Intensity Activity and Muscle Strengthening Activity
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
30 minute brisk walk
30 minute brisk walk
30 minute brisk walk
Weight training
30 minute brisk walk
30 minute brisk walk
Weight training
Total: 150 minutes moderate-intensity aerobic activity
+ 2 days muscle-strengthening activity

Example 2: Vigorous Intensity Activity and Muscle Strengthening Activity
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
25 minute jog
25 minute jog and weight training
Weight training
25 minute jog
Total: 75 minutes vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
+ 2 days muscle-strengthening activity

Example 3: Mix of Moderate and Vigorous Intensity Activity
and Muscle Strengthening Activity
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
30 minute brisk walk
15 minute jog
Weight training
30 minute brisk walk
Weight training
15 minute jog
30 minute brisk walk
Total: The equivalent of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity
+ 2 days muscle-strengthening activity