The Role of Physical Activity

By Harmony Rosenberg RN BSN

Exercise – that means run a 5K tomorrow, right?  Not really, thank goodness. 

choosing_your_exercise

So what does it mean when we say physical activity? We consider physical activity anything that gets you off the couch (or chair). That could include dancing, cleaning the house, walking, running, swimming, working in the yard, etc. Why do I need to exercise?  

Exercise has the following benefits:

  • Lowers your blood sugar and allows your body to use glucose more efficiently
  • Helps reverse the insulin resistance that can come from being overweight
  • Helps control blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Makes us stronger and gives us more energy
  • Help cope with stress more effectively
  • Help us lose weight
  • And much, much more

You may be saying to yourself, how do I even start an exercise plan? My answer is….just start! The hardest part of an exercise routine is getting started. I have a few steps to help get started and stay motivated. 

  1. What are you interested in? If you don’t like to run, DON’T run.
  2. Make time for exercise. We are all busy, and often use it as an excuse not to exercise. One tip that may work is to schedule your exercise on your calendar, just like you do work meetings or kid’s activities.
  3. Find a partner. Having that other person to push you when you get tired can be very motivating.
  4. Set goals. If we don’t see results, we won’t continue. Set short and long-term goals. If I have a patient who hasn’t exercised in years, but would like to start, I encourage them to start small and from where they are capable, then increase a little each day. It won’t seem like much at the start, but they may feel motivated to keep going once they reach each goal. One key thing to remember is, reward yourself for accomplishing those goals!
  5. Track your progress. Again, if we don’t see results, we won’t continue. If we write down our progress, we are able to see even the smallest improvement.

The current recommendation for physical activity is at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. This equates to about 30 minutes, 5 days per week. If you want to lose weight, increase that time to around 250-300 minutes a week. But, always be sure to consult your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise program.

Whether you park farther away from the building, use the stairs instead of the elevator, walk laps at your lunch break, or spend less time in front of electronic devices, the best advice I can give you is just start (and be faster than the next guy)!