Being “fit” means taking care of our bodies. Every day, you make countless decisions that pull you closer (or push you farther away) from your ideal self. Maintaining a level of fitness simply makes our quality of life better at any age. It allows us to play harder, compete stronger and move easier (and possibly with less pain) through life.
Why YOU need to start moving TODAY
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists several benefits to adding more physical activity to your daily life.
Moving more will:
- help you manage your weight
- reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancers
- strengthen bones and muscles
- improve your mental health (cognitive and emotional)
- improve your ability to carry out daily activities and less likely to injure yourself
- possibly improve your chances of living longer
The “Official” Physical Activity Guidelines
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults (ages 18 to 65) should aim for a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. This includes activities like brisk walking, ballroom dancing or gardening. Another option is to do 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of heart-pounding, vigorous aerobic physical activity spread across a week. This includes exercise like jogging, aerobic dancing and jumping rope. Or you can do a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activities. In addition to the cardiovascular component, the guidelines recommend performing muscle-strengthening exercises that target the major muscle groups twice a week.
These guidelines are helpful because they give us an idea of how much time we should spend on the fitness component of our lives; however, they don’t appear to be motivating people. A report published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, revealed that only 20 percent (1 in 5) Americans were meeting the combined aerobic/strength training recommendations.
We are all busy people with different bodies and abilities. If you are new to the idea of physical fitness or haven’t exercised for awhile, then start small and take each day as it comes. The “official” guidelines can seem overwhelming at first.
Those of you who are already active can use the guidelines to set new weekly targets.
If you happen to be among the 20 percent of Americans already meeting the guidelines, then keep it up!
Need more motivation? Do this for yourself. Do it for the people you love– and the people who love you.