Get Creative to Get Moving!

by Dr. Christopher Weaver | May 1st, 2013 | Fitness Expert

runAs a fitness trainer, one of the most commonly used excuses that I hear as to why people do not exercise regularly is they do not have the time. As a husband, father, and full time employee among other daily roles, I completely understand that trying to add more to an already full plate can seem beyond imagination. Yet given the increasing rate of sedentary and overweight people in the United States, it is evident that physical activity is a must in order to maintain and improve our health, as well as decrease the risk of disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2012, more than 1 out of 3 Americans are obese. It is also estimated that approximately 1 out of every 4 Americans live a sedentary lifestyle. Obesity has been linked to serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes and increased risk of certain cancers. Recent research reports that a sedentary lifestyle presents as many health risks as does smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes per day. One of the simplest and most effective steps that we can take to combat obesity and disease is to increase physical activity levels. Therefore, it is time that we stop with the excuse making and start getting creative with our time in order to ensure that we give our bodies the exercise that it needs for healthy functioning.

Creatively approaching increased physical activity begins with evaluating your daily schedule and being honest with yourself in terms of where you can potentially carve out 20 to 30 minutes each day for exercise. Some people function well early in the morning, so it would make sense that these people consider getting up a bit earlier and going for a walk or jog before work or prior to engaging in other daily responsibilities. My wife and I both have found that fitting a workout into our lunch break each day works well. Afterwards, I can then enjoy my food once I return to the office. You can also use 5 to 10 minutes of your coffee breaks at work to engage in some light stretching and simple resistance exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups against the wall, and isotonic type exercises where you simply contract the muscles, such as the abdominals, and hold for a period of 10 to 20 seconds before releasing and repeating several times. Participating in exercises during your coffee break can actually help you remain more alert while on the job and decrease the feelings of fatigue as the workday progresses.

Another easy way to creatively approach increasing physical activity levels includes looking at what daily activities that you can incorporate exercise into. Say for instance that you have to take the kids to soccer practice in the evenings. Use this time to jog around the parameter of the playing field while waiting on the children’s practice to wrap up. Pay little attention to what the other parents might think and who knows, you might even inspire others to join you! If you have younger children, consider purchasing a jogging stroller or bike trailer to pull behind your bicycle while you exercise. By including the kids and family in your workouts you not only increase the time you get to spend together, but you instill the importance of daily physical activity into your children and loved ones.

Everyone enjoys a great show on television from time to time, so lay out a simple exercise routine that you can do while watching television in the evenings. Leg lifts, crunches, calf raises, push-ups, and plank are just a few exercises that you can do without any equipment other than your own body and still manage to fit in your favorite, can’t miss TV show. If you prefer to read in your spare time, read while using the stationary bike or while walking on a treadmill if these pieces of equipment are available to you. If not, consider audio books that you can purchase or download and listen to while walking or jogging outside. These days you can even purchase a waterproof case for your MP3 player so you can listen while swimming!

If you are a part of a social group that gets together on a regular basis, consider asking the group to meet at the park and go for a walk or hike together instead of meeting at a member’s house or elsewhere. Not only will you increase your level of physical activity, but you will not have to worry about eating snack foods that are often a part of group meetings and social gatherings.

The American Heart Association recommends that we all engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 days per week in order to reduce the risk of heart disease and for promoting overall health. Moderate intensity exercise would be any type of movement that causes an increase in your heart rate, yet you are still able to carry on a conversation during the activity. Even activities such as yard work, housecleaning, and washing the car are ways that we can increase physical activity levels while still completing the tasks of daily living. As busy members of modern society, in order to add things to our already hectic schedules requires that we think outside of the box. If you have the time and resources to be a part of a fitness center or group exercise class that is wonderful, yet if you do not, simply get creative and have fun figuring out ways to get in your 30 minutes of exercise each day. This way you will also be strengthening your most important body part, the brain!

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.