With winter approaching, many of us are noticing a decline in our physical activity. It gets dark too early. The roads are slippery. It’s cold. These are legitimate observations; unfortunately, our bodies still require movement all year long.
Exercise can help prevent, delay or manage most chronic diseases. In Canada, we define regular exercise as at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week in bouts of 10 minutes or more. This translates to a minimum of 22 minutes per day. While we all know that activity is good for us, many of us struggle finding time and motivation. If you don’t like to exercise, it is also helpful to concentrate on reducing sedentary behaviours; here are some ideas for increasing overall activity levels:
• If you spend most of your day sitting at the computer, consider a standing desk. Or set your timer every thirty minutes to walk to the water machine or photocopier.
• Actively commute (walk or bike to work, take the stairs, park on the far side of the parking lot).
• Be an active observer (walk around the soccer field while your child is practicing, do loops at the arena during hockey).
• Choose active relaxation (sign up for a yoga class or sports team, stretch while you watch TV)
• Make “family time” active, take kids to the park or swimming pool, take the dog for a walk.
• Be “busy” around your house: clean, garden, repair.
• Reframe exercise as enjoyable movement
• Experiment, try something new-movement in a pool, a dance class, yoga. Youtube exercises you can do in a chair.
Inactivity is a serious health concern; in fact, it is such a pervasive problem that there are now recommendations for children and teenagers (at least 60 minutes every day, limiting screen time to no more than two hours daily), as well as infants and toddlers (at least three hours of free play daily). Finding something that you enjoy and can include in your daily routine can improve your quality of life.