By now we all know regular exercise is important. From the physical and the physiological to the social and the psychological regular exercise benefits us in countless ways. Despite knowing this, many people choose to forego exercise every day. One of the biggest reasons people skip exercise is because they simply do not enjoy or do not have time to “go to the gym.” Exercise, however, can come in many shapes and sizes. One can stay fit and live healthy without ever setting foot into a gym or fitness center if they so choose.
How Much is Enough?
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week. Initially that may seem like a tall order. However, there are 1,440 minutes in a day and 10,080 minutes in a week. That means in order to meet the recommendations you simply have to be active for 1.4% of the week. That's it: 1.4% of your entire week! Less than 1.5% of your time is all it takes to maintain your health and decrease your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, stroke, obesity, and cancer. Also, the 150 total minutes can be broken up into sessions as short as 10 minutes and still make an impact. Any exercise is better than nothing!
Diversity for Success
As mentioned above, exercise can happen anytime, anywhere. If you don’t enjoy jogging or weight lifting there are hundreds of other ways to get active. In fact, here at Inspire we like to say the best exercise is the one you enjoy doing! The best way to have an active, healthy life that you truly enjoy is to find the activities that you enjoy doing. Look at the figure to the right to get an idea of some “non-traditional” exercises. Blending traditional and non-traditional activities into your schedule will help keep you interested and engaged. Find whatever activity best fits your schedule that day; with so many options you should never be too busy to exercise. There is truly no reason to not be active. When you start looking at activity as simply a daily behavior rather than an inconvenient requirement it becomes much easier, much more enjoyable, and much more sustainable.
Exercise: What Counts?
Science Corner: What is a MET?
There are many different ways to measure the intensity of an activity. One of the most popular ways is the Metabolic Equivalent, or MET. The MET is the ratio of energy expended during activity to energy expended at a baseline (commonly at rest). For example, sitting at your desk relaxing counts for 1 MET. However, jogging is around 8 METS, meaning it is 8 times more demanding aerobically than sitting. The higher the number, the more intense the activity. The chart below displays many common activities and their MET value. You can substitute activities with similar MET values and still get all the same health benefits, even if it doesn’t seem like traditional exercise!