You don't need a gym or special equipment, just get moving!
Finding balance and activity in your day is important now more than ever
By Julie Drake, PT, DPT and Elissa Thompson, MD
During this time of relative isolation, working from home, stressful situations in the workplace and exercise routines disrupted, it’s important to remember to just keep moving. Finding balance and activity in your day is important now more than ever and it doesn’t have to involve a gym membership or expensive athletic gear.
We know that regular physical activity has many benefits and top among those is the prevention of chronic inflammation and its resulting diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and stroke, the top three health-related causes of death. There are many other benefits as well, including weight control, fat reduction, the promotion of strong bones, muscles and joints and improved endurance. In addition to these more obvious benefits, regular activity has also been shown to improve sleep, decrease the potential of becoming depressed, increase your energy and self-esteem and decrease stress levels. We could probably all benefit from these to some degree!
Are You Getting Enough Exercise?
The Department of Health and Human Services recently updated their Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, and the recommendation is for adults to move more and sit less throughout the day, and in doing that, you will note improved health benefits. If we sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, we gain some health benefits.
More specifically, the recommendation is to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.
For example, you can do moderate intensity activities like brisk walking, dancing, doubles tennis, or cycling at a speed less than 10miles/hr for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. For vigorous aerobic activity, you can hike uphill with a backpack, run, play singles tennis or go cycling at a speed greater than 10miles/hr for 15 minutes, 5 days a week.
Also recommended is muscle strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups 2 or more days a week. There is no need for additional equipment to incorporate strength training into your routine, as you can use your own body weight as resistance for simple exercises to do at home. Squats, lunges, planks and push-ups are just a few examples of some great options for muscle strengthening. Check out this short video of simple strength exercises… you can even do these in your backyard!
A few additional guidelines apply to the older adult, including incorporating balance and flexibility training into your routine. Yoga and tai chi are great examples of practices you can add to your regime.
Just Keep Moving – Simple Ways to Increase Your Daily Physical Activity
For some simple ways to incorporate more physical activity into your day, consider these options:
- Take walking breaks instead of coffee breaks or take your coffee or water with you as you walk
- Stand while talking on the phone or doing a Zoom chat
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park in the farthest spot in the parking lot
- Experience the great outdoors by taking a walk in the Cape Cod National Seashore or at one of our many beautiful beaches or parks
Speaking of the National Seashore and getting out and moving, please sign up for our Healthy Parks Healthy People 5K next month! It will be a virtual event this year, and you can complete a 5K walk or run, or a 10-mile bike ride over the weekend of September 18-20. You choose the location, so make it fun and join a good cause to support our Cardiac Rehab program and the Cape Cod National Seashore!
Julie Drake, PT, DPT is director of Rehabilitation Services for CCH. Elisa Thompson, MD, is a cardiologist at the Cape Cod Healthcare Cardiovascular Center. Both are directors of the Healthy Parks, Healthy People program, a partnership between Cape Cod Healthcare and the Cape Cod National Seashore.