In this episode, we talk about the health consequence of inactivity, benefits of physical activity and movement in children and adults, current recommendations, and realistic ways to get you started.
Today we will be talking about the last component of the healthy mom trifecta: movement.
We will talk about why movement and physical activity are important, health consequences of being inactive, the benefits of moving more and sitting less, and practical steps to get you started.
Let’s talk about movement and more importantly the lack of movement. I’ve shared with you all on the previous episodes about my hip fracture and decreased activity related to that injury. What I haven’t shared is the ongoing struggle to resume physical activity after that injury. The move I try to jump back into being active, the more the pain and discomfort I have which stops me from moving forward. Sometimes, I am in disbelief that what was so easy for me to do only 4 years ago is something that is so difficult for me to achieve now. I find myself moving faster than my body can handle with a sense of impatience of wanting to feel and look better. I tire easier physically and find the excuses of being too tired to increase physical activity much more often. I know that the only way out of this cycle is to move forward anyway. To commit to a small amount of movement every day, no matter how gentle. It’s hard to see how far I need to go but I am trying to be patient and live in the present, a new approach for me.
Whether it’s chronic pain or illness, craziness of life, or being too busy juggling work and home life that prevent us from being active, we all deserve to have the benefits of movement. We use excuses like “I’m too tired to exercise, I can’t afford a gym, I don’t have time.” I know I have used all of these. I think as women, we wear this badge of honor of “being too busy” to take care of ourselves. What if we changed that thinking to a state of feeling proud for taking care of our own health instead of being a martyr and sacrificer of it. How much more controlled and powerful we would feel.
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Guidelines, 2nd edition – evidenced based,
science driven data recommendations for physical activity across the life cycle starting at age 3.
To understand why movement and physical activity is important, we need to first understand the consequences of being inactive or sedentary. Inactive lifestyle includes time sitting: whether in front of the TV, or using screen time, or working.
- There is a relationship associated with being inactive and decrease in your health
- Decrease in physical activity/movement leads to increased risk of heart disease and all-cause mortality
- Heart disease and stroke are the 2 leading causes of death in the US. Physical activity reduces the risk of dying from heart disease and lowers risk of developing heart disease, heart attack, and stroke
- Lack of activity has been associated with increased risk of diabetes (not IDDM but lifestyle related DM)
- The more time spent being inactive increases risk of some cancers including colon, endometrium, lung
- 7 of the 10 most common chronic diseases are favorably influenced by physical activity
- Children and adults spend 7.7 hours per day being inactive/sedentary.
- Only 20% of adults meet the guidelines for aerobic and muscle strengthening activity, 80% of adults are not meeting the guidelines for PA
- Males meet criteria more than female (24% vs. 17%)
What is the good news here? Large health benefit seen when a person goes from no activity to some activity. That benefit becomes greater as the person gets closer to achieving the goal of 150 min of activity per week. Once you begin physical activity, the benefits start immediately!
Everyone benefits, including men, women, and children – of all ages.
What is physical activity:
World Health Organization defines physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure – including activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, travelling, and engaging in recreational pursuits. This includes walking, hiking, swimming, gardening.
Let’s talk about the benefits of physical activity and then we can move into the recommendations:
Health Benefits in Children and Adolescents (children aged 6-17) include:
- Improved Bone Health
- Improvement in weight status
- Improvement in cognition – brain maturity, brain development, and how they perform academically
- Reduced depression risk (aged 6 to 13 years old)
Health Benefits in Adults including Older Adults (anyone over 18 years old)
- Improved muscular, bone, and functional health
- Reduced risk of diseases including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, various types of cancer (including breast cancer and colon cancer)
- Slower progression of hypertension, diabetes
- Better sleep
- Improved cognition and memory
- Reduced risk of dementia – including Alzheimer’s
- Weight management and obesity prevention
- Regular physical activity, decreases abdominal fat and preserves muscle mass – if not eating an excess of calories
- Fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Better quality of life and sense of overall well-being
- Reduced risk of all cause and disease specific mortality
- Older adults: reduced risk of injuries related to fall
Key Recommendations from these Guidelines:
- All children, adolescent, and adults to move at last 60 minutes per day
- All Americans should perform regular physical activity to improve overall health
Examples for Preschool Children
- Games: tag, follow the leader
- Going to the park, swimming, playing catch or tag, running, skipping, riding a bike, gymnastics, jumping rope
Examples for Children and Adolescents (aged 6-17)
- School aged
- Walking, running, riding bike or scooter, hiking, jumping rope, martial arts, sports, yoga, climbing tree
- Walking, running, hiking, swimming, yard work, video games that require movement, sports, martial arts, dancing, yoga, weights, jumping rope
- Children with Disabilities
- Avoid being inactive, talk to health professional based on disability your child has
- Variety and enjoyable
- Special attention to girls, as PA decreases as they get older, more than in boys – may need more encouragement
Recommendations for Adults and those with chronic health conditions, older adults
- Moderate intensity: at least 150 minutes throughout the week
- 2 hour, 30 minutes per week
- 30 min/5 days/week
- 50 min/3 days/week
- Vigorous-intensity: at least 75 minutes (1 hour, 15 min per week)
- For additional health benefits, increase moderate-intensity to 300 minutes per week
- 5 hrs per week
- 60 min/5 days/week
- Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week
Physical Activity Examples for Adults:
- Walking, swimming, riding a bike, hiking, exercise classes, yoga, dancing, yard work, playing sports
- Harder: jogging, increasing hardness of exercise, weights such as resistance bands, handheld or machines,
- Older adults: water aerobics, gardening, carrying groceries, tai chi, yoga
How can you tell what level of activity you are doing? Use the talk test! The talk test for moderate intensity activity: means you can talk, but not sing during the physical activity. For more vigorous intensity activity: the talk test means being able to say less words without needing to take a breath
Some good news!!! Health benefits seen even if you are unable to meet the target range!
Considerations/Decisions to Consider when undergoing physical activity.
- Exercise in slower traffic neighborhoods
- Utilize sidewalks, paths, bike lanes
- Area is well lit, other people present, not wearing head phones if no one around or dark
- Exercise early in the morning or early evening if hot outside
- Drink enough fluids: before, during, and after activity. Most people do not require a sports drink if doing less than 60 minutes of activity.
- Pregnant: don’t lie on back after first trimester, avoid anything that could cause trauma to belly or any contact sports
Now let’s talk about some practical tips to get you moving
- Limit the amount of screen time daily. This includes time spent in front of the TV, computer, or tablet. Start in 15- or 30-minute increments and replace it with any movement at all – this could be jumping, dancing, walking, playing.
- Choose an activity tracker such an apple watch, fit bit, or download an app on your phone that will track physical activity
- Walking is an easy way to start. Use a fitness tracker or pedometer to help track the number of steps you take everyday. Start with your baseline and then add 500-1,000 steps per day for goal of 10, 000 steps/day
- Check you smart TV or smart phone for apps that promote health and fitness including:
Peloton, Beach Body on Demand, daily workouts, daily burn, yoga, fit you, my curves on demand. There are so many available, some are free, some are free for a trial periods, and others will cost a small amount per year, typically cheaper than a gym. These apps are constantly changing so I’m sure there are many more available out there when reading this.
- Try You-Tube videos: search for exercise at home, beginners, kids, teens, female, male, search for yoga, walk at home programs, pregnant workout. This videos are typically free but may require some searching on your part to find a workout that you enjoy most.
- Join a YMCA that offers family programs throughout the year
- Join a swim club
- Parents of teenagers, computer game that has physical activity in it
- Take a walk on your lunch break, or after dinner
- Play outside with your kids
- Plant and tend to a garden
- Take a longer walk with your dog
- If you have kids, do an activity with them on the weekend
- Have an accountability partner
- Listen to your fav podcast, create an exercise playlist, listen to audiobooks
- Start with where you are at with your current level of physical activity, not where you were 1 or 5 years ago.
- Decide what works for you? Movement at home, outside, or going to a facility.
- Decide which days this week you will move? Be realistic. If you are doing nothing, it may not be realistic to start moving every day. Maybe you start with 1-2 days this week and then add on days as it becomes more of a routine
- It’s OK if you are not able to do what you were once able to do. Start where you are at. Any movement is better than nothing at all
- Utilize the mantra “start slow and go slow” – start something that is manageable and then build upon it over time, increasing frequency and length of time
- Make it part of your everyday routine
Knowledge is power, but the real power is by taking ACTION. That is the key to change. The difference between you and the person you want to become is the action piece. Plan ahead and be prepared for the excuses and self -talk you know you will make. Take out your calendar and plan which day you will commit to moving, what time? What will you do? How will you hold yourself accountable? Implement small sessions of movement each week, decide what works and what doesn’t, make changes, and then continue to build and create a foundation that works for you.
There is no “right or wrong” way to do this. It’s more of what is right for you and what you can maintain over the long term. This journey will take time and effort and may even require you to step outside of your comfort zone. It won’t be perfect. Done is better than perfect. Whole Health is not an impossibility – but only you can make it happen. I don’t have it figured out, but I know I can do a better job than I am doing now. You may feel that way too.
Remember to start where you’re at. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being 1% better each day. Be kind to yourself friends. See you next week.