Ask the Coach

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How can I squeeze more physical activity (PA) into my busy lifestyle?

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things we can do to improve our health. PA prevents chronic disease, improves brain health, improves sleep quality and reduces the risk of anxiety and depression. According to The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Intentionally, store household items and snacks out of the way, downstairs or in the garage. Make yourself go out for snacks, requiring more steps. Use an activity tracker, most phones have them free of charge. Being aware of how much you move or don’t move is the first step to success. Walk instead of driving. Go shopping for food or shopping at the mall instead of ordering online.

Any activity counts just move your body. Focus on what you do and not on what you don’t do. Replace sitting with standing when possible. Move while you sit, march and move your legs. Chat with your friend in a virtual activity call. Walk or hop on the elliptical and chat. Listen to assignments, podcasts or meetings while on a cardio machine or doing choirs. Take the stairs. Gardening, dancing and parking further away from your destination are also ways to increase PA.

Adults who reduce sitting and do any moderate to vigorous PA gain health benefits. You can do a lot in 30 minutes. I have a standing desk. Have a walking meeting. Try push-ups against the wall, squatting to a chair, knee lifts between appointments or calls. Hand wash the car, clean out the attic or garage. Wash the house down, clean the windows and other household choirs.

For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes a week of moderate intensity throughout the week. Intensity is relative so get breathy. Choose activities you enjoy and make them part of your weekly schedule. Social support is key to success. Get a workout partner or engage friends in a PA challenge with activity trackers. Try a new activity. Make it a family affair, walk before or after dinner. Plan family hikes, day trips or cycling that can become a fun habit. Zoos, water parks, theme parks and other attractions require movement. Like to binge watch TV? Then put a rower or treadmill in front of the screen.

I recommend muscle strengthening exercises of moderate or greater intensity, two-three days a week, of the major muscle groups. Lifting the kids, pets, groceries, your own bodyweight or helping others counts towards your weekly movement goal. A case of water is around 28 lbs. Carry those around the house or store. Hire a personal trainer to develop a program for you. Join a gym or community center and learn a 30-minute circuit. Many are open 24/7. Resistance bands at home or the basic
push-ups, squats, planks and dips are examples of bodyweight exercises.

These are some simple suggestions to move more every day. Get moving for health and start making deposits in your activity account!

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Carla Gray, BSES, HFS, CPT is a personal trainer and can be reached at
info@fitnessconnection.net or (504) 885-7855.

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