Mary Landwehr, MD
Sunrise Family Care Clinic
Every day we have opportunities to move our bodies, stretch our muscles and fill our lungs with fresh air. We all know we should work out, exercise, stay physically active, or just move. However, how often do we really? Most of us would say, “Not enough!”
Why is that? Is it because we do not know that we should? Studies have shown that people who engage in even light exercise (walking while being able to carry on a conversation with their walking partner) on average, add one year to their life span. With this fact in mind, do you have time to sit around?
Do we not have the time? In this day and age, with our busy schedules, we have to make decisions about how we spend our time. We try and divide our time among all that is important in our lives—family, work, faith, and community. Is it possible to incorporate motion and exercise into these activities? Families can go for hikes or bike while having conversations about one another’s days! Stay in motion while connecting with coworkers over lunch by going on a walk together. A church group could get together and organize a yoga session.
In Wisconsin, a big concern around staying active is finding the right place to exercise because of our constantly changing weather. In the summer, it is too hot and there are too many bugs. In winter, it is dark too early and can be too cold. One option for indoor exercise would be to join the YMCA or a different health club. However not everyone can or wishes to do so. Look for opportunities in your home. You could go up and down stairs, which if done without interruption, is very good cardiovascular exercise. You could also fill water bottles, and use these for weight lifting as you watch the news.
Now the question is, what exactly is considered exercise? Walking the floor 12 hours at work is exercise, yet while this is exhausting, it is incidental exercise and does not give you the benefits that purposeful exercise can provide.
Incidental “by the way” exercise is the physical activity we get while at work, shopping, walking from class to class, and doing other day to day activities. We can all make choices to try and increase this incidental exercise by doing things such as parking farther away from our destination and taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Purposeful exercise occurs when we make a conscious decision to move with a duration and intensity goal in mind. It is recommended to exercise 150 minutes per week, which breaks down to 30 minutes 5 days a week. You can choose from low intensity (being able to carry on a conversation easily) to moderate intensity (talking in short bursts) to high intensity (no talking). The best will be to do a variety of these intensities throughout the week. When you start, mix in brief episodes of high intensity exercise between your low and moderate intensity activities. It is ok to start small, for it is important for both your physical and emotional health that you just get moving!
To sum it up—start moving! Studies have shown that the benefits of purposeful exercise are plentiful and include weight loss, better weight maintenance, decreased risk for developing certain cancers, improved emotional well being, better focus, and increased joy in our lives.
Before you run for your exercise clothes, please consider the following: Be safe! Let your body be your guide as to what and how much exercise you should do. A good rule of thumb is to start with 10 minutes of purposeful exercise and work your way up from there.
There are several benefits to starting slow:
1. It will make you successful when you accomplish your goals. This makes you feel good about yourself, making you more likely to repeat the activity that gave you that sense of accomplishment. This is how we develop habits, and purposeful exercise is a great habit to develop!
2. Your body has time to adjust. The health benefits of scheduled, purposeful exercise do not occur over night. Repetition, nutrition (with a balance towards lean protein and vegetables), water, and sleep are the ingredients your body needs to develop muscles, improve balance, decrease the risk of falling, and to strengthen bones. Starting out slow with purposeful planned exercise allows the body to grow with your new health habits. This helps you prevent overuse injuries and fatigue, which can put a damper on your exercise habit.
Set SMART goals for yourself. SMART goals are “smart” because the letters stand for “Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timeable” goals. Research has shown that if you have a vague goal, like “I will exercise more”, you are not very likely to follow through with this. However, if you commit yourself to a SMART goal, the chance of pursuing this defined goal is much higher. An example of such a goal would be, “I will walk 10 minutes Mondays and Fridays, outside or at the local grocery store”.
Check your confidence in your goal. It is one thing to make a goal, and another to actually follow through with it. Give your confidence a number on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being minimally confident and 10 being highly confident). If your score is a 7 or lower, reconsider your goal. A score of 8 has been shown to coincide with a higher chance of achieving your goal!
Now you have more information and ideas on how to increase and promote your health. This information could also help you to control many of the chronic health concerns you may have. Some things are easier to address with a team approach, and we are here to help you!
Dr. Landwehr – Sunrise Family Care Center
For information or to schedule an appointment:
715-726-3096 | sunrisefamilycareclinic.com
Dr. Landwehr sees patients in Chippewa Falls.