This article is the eighth in a series of nine which focuses on areas that I explore with my health and wellness coaching clients.  Our health and well-being are so much more than just what we eat and how active we are, even though that is certainly part of it.   What changes would you like to see in your life?  Whether its nutrition, being physically active, reducing stress, being more in-tune with your mind body connection, or being more aware of your environment and its impact on health and wellness, there is always an opportunity to explore potential areas for change.  

 

This month’s focus is on movement, exercise, and play. With spring upon us and summer soon to follow in its footsteps, it’s the perfect opportunity to think about getting more active perhaps outdoors.  It doesn’t have to be “exercise,” per se, the important thing is to MOVE and be active.   Come and explore this dimension of health and wellness and get your movement on, whether it’s outdoors or inside with the fans and air conditioning blowing.

 

Movement, Exercise, and Play

 

While the word “exercise” may turn some people off, it’s still important to know how and why it’s important to “exercise,” to move more, and to actively “play,” whichever term you choose to use.   Even if you choose not to “exercise,” you may choose to engage in activities that are active and where you are moving, maybe even having fun, and “playing” in the process.    Re-framing how you think about “exercise” might be just the ticket to increasing your movement and activity levels.

 

Here’s why it – exercise, movement, active play or whatever you choose to call it – is important.  Did you know that many adults spend over 70% of their waking hours sitting?  This means that if a person is awake for 15 hours, 10.5 of those hours are spent sitting in a chair, on a couch, or in the car. We’ve all heard that we should exercise at least 30 minutes five times a week, but what makes us want to get out there and move?  The following are some of the many benefits of being active, moving more, and if you want to call it that, exercising!

 

Regular exercise helps to reduce your chances of getting certain chronic diseases including heart disease, type II diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancers.

 

Exercise can help improve sleep by helping you to fall asleep more quickly and deepening the quality of your sleep.

 

Exercise is energizing. By increasing oxygen and nutrients to your tissues your heart and lungs work more efficiently, which in turn gives you more energy.


Exercise has been found to lessen mild to moderate depression, anxiety, and tension. The increased flow of oxygenated blood to the brain can improve memory and mental acuity.

 

For every hour of regular exercise that you engage in, you will get back two hours in additional life expectancy.

 

Exercise science is rapidly growing. Stay abreast of the current recommendations. CDC provides reliable, credible, and evidence-based resources to keep up with guidelines for exercise.  For adults under 65, the current recommendations are to obtain at least 2.5 hours (150 minutes) of moderate exercise per week (e.g., 30 minutes 5 X week), or at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week (e.g., 25 minutes 3 X week) AND muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

 

Questions to Ask Yourself

 

If you are contemplating being more active, here are some questions to ask yourself:

 

How much movement are you already doing?

 

What role does movement already have in your life and if it’s there, what adjustments might you want to make to slowly increase the movement?

 

What types of activities do you enjoy? Running or lifting weights? Walking, hiking, dancing, or yoga?   If you don’t enjoy it, odds are it won’t last long.

 

How realistic have the goals you have set in the past been? If you haven’t been active for a while, be sure and start slowly and build up gradually!

 

 

Tips

 

Throughout the day incorporate short periods of activity to break up the time spent sitting. Walk down the hall to talk to a coworker instead of emailing or calling. Set a timer on your phone or computer to go off hourly so there is an opportunity to get out of your seat, stretch and move around.

 

Increase your number of steps each day by parking further away in the parking lot and taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

 

Choose activities that are fun for you and rotate them to keep things interesting (walking, hiking, biking, rock climbing, rowing, dancing, yoga).

 

Have a schedule for when exercise will happen and commit it to the calendar.

 

Pair up with friends, family, or co-workers. Having a buddy to exercise with can increase accountability and motivation.

 

If there isn’t someone in your actual physical location to exercise with, find “virtual” support. Walk while talking to a friend on the phone, or send encouraging messages via social media, email, or text.

 

Track the date and length of the exercise; the most powerful predictor of successful behavior change is tracking the activity of interest.


Resources:

 

Physical Activity Basics: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/index.htm

 

Adding Physical Activity to Your Life and When to Check with Your Doctor First https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adding-pa/index.htm

 

Physical Activity for Americans Guidelines. Provides up to date guidelines for those 6 and older. Includes resources for clinicians and patients:  https://health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/physical-activity-guidelines/current-guidelines

 

Make Indoor Exercise More Interesting with This App: https://www.bitgym.com/

 

Free Online Workout Videos and Printable Workout Routines: http://www.fitnessblender.com/v/article-detail/Free-Printable-Workout-Routines/73/

Sources and Citations:

 

A Time to Bloom Health and Wellness Coaching, LLC https://atimetobloomcoaching.com/

 

Vanderbilt Health Coaching Program, Resources for Health, and Wellness Coaches. https://www.vumc.org/health-coaching/health-coaching-program