Intuitively, we know that being active leads to better health. Guidelines by Health Canada and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services indicate that a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity per week may provide substantial health benefits such as lower risk of premature death, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and depression. Doubling your activity to 300 minutes per week will yield even bigger health benefits.
Keep in mind that physical activities discussed in the guidelines refer to aerobic (cardio) exercises that get you sweating and breathing harder or “out of breath.” Examples include brisk walking, cycling, jumping rope, running, and cross-country skiing.
Busy Lives, Limited Time
Our ancestors had many opportunities to be active in daily living. With our sedentary jobs and car-loving times, many of us have difficulty squeezing in the minimum cardio requirements during busy days. Think again!
Do the Math:
- 150 to 300 minutes equate to 2.5 to 5 hours per week. Break down the total into 10 minute segments – 15 to 30 short, heart-rate elevating activities in a week or 2 to 4 per day!
- Increase intensity. The harder you’re working, the less time is needed to gain health benefits.
Ways to Fit in Cardio
Think you don’t have time for cardio? Think about how to fit it into your daily living. Here are some ideas to get you going:
- Ditch the car once per week to cycle or run to work.
- Car pool and take turns driving and cycling/running part way home or office.
- Ride bus and get off a few stops early to briskly walk the rest of way.
- Walk your kids to and from school.
- Walk up and down stairs while doing chores; alternate between running up and walking up 2 steps at a time.
- Pump up the music and dance with your child.
- Chase your child around the house while doing chores or yard when gardening.
- Take brisk walk with your family to chat about the day or while dinner is cooking.
- Walk, run or cycle to appointments, for grocery shopping, and other chores.
- Use the stairs instead of elevators.
- Run/briskly walk staircase for 10 minutes at breaks.
- Arrange walking meetings instead of boardroom locations.
- Walk briskly around the office during the day to talk with colleagues.
- Walk to/from appointments.
- Run/briskly walk around soccer field at your child’s game; do jumping jacks.
- Drop kids off at their activities, briskly walk outside for 10 minutes, and then go back to watch.
- When walking your dog include short running spurts.
- When watching sports on TV, briskly walk the stairs, do jumping jacks, run on the spot during half-time or between periods.
- Add treadmill or stationary bike in TV room and workout to your favorite shows.
Get creative to squeeze in another 10 minutes of heart-pumping activity in your day!
- Health Canada – http://www.csep.ca/CMFiles/Guidelines/CSEP-InfoSheetsComplete-Eng.pdf
- U.S. Dept of Health & Human Services – http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter4.aspx