Movement As Medicine… And How To Get Your Daily Dose.
How often do you move? In today’s society, we have become consistently more sedentary. Between work, school, commuting, and increased time with electronics (including tv, computers, and video games), we spend a large portion of our days sitting. In the midst of Oregon’s dark and rainy (or snowy!) winter, we may also find our normal outside activities decreasing. Movement is such an important part of our health, but one we often overlook.
What Is Physical Activity?
Physical activity can be defined as any movement of the body that requires energy expenditure. Physical activity includes our normal day-to-day patterns like getting out of bed, going upstairs, walking around the store, and lifting groceries. It also includes exercise like running, biking, swimming, lifting weights, and playing sports. Exercise is defined as “bodily exertion for the sake of developing and maintaining physical fitness.” It can include strength, mobility, balance, endurance, and coordination activities. Exercise is physical activity, but not all physical activity is exercise. The good news is that we can reach our movement goals without ever hitting a gym.
Why Is Physical Activity Important?
Physical activity is important to our overall health. It should include both aerobic or cardiovascular AND strengthening activities. Increased activity levels can improve:
- cardiovascular health
- strength and muscle health
- bone strength and density
- functional capacity/activity tolerance
Did you know that physical activity can also improve mental health, provide a sense of purpose, improve autonomy, and promote lifelong independence? It can also offer social benefits and a sense of community – whether walking with friends, joining an exercise class, or participating in organized sports.
Who Can Benefit from Physical Activity?
Do you know the recommended amount of physical activity per week? The CDC and AHA recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week for adults. If you prefer more vigorous activity, the recommendation is 75 minutes per week. We have over 10,000 minutes in a week, which means that 150 minutes (or ~1.5% of our time) should be easy enough to achieve. But per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Dept of HHS), only one in three adults reach the recommended physical activity guidelines. Less than 5% of adults get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. Courtesy of U.S. Dept of Health & Human Services For children (ages 6-17), they recommend at least 1 hour per day of physical activity, vigorous activity at least three times per week, and muscle + bone-strengthening activities at least three times per week. Children 3-6 are recommended to move often throughout the day, and should be encouraged to play and explore movement. Courtesy of U.S. Dept of Health & Human Services Did you know that Oregon was the first state to require minimum physical activity while in school? In 2007, House Bill 3141 was approved which requires a minimum of 150 minutes of physical education instruction per week for grades K-5 and 225 minutes for grades 6-8. This is such an amazing opportunity to promote health and wellness in all ages.
How Do We Reach Our Physical Activity Goals?
The “Move Your Way” campaign through health.gov provides wonderful resources for adults and kids (or parents). The most important thing is to start! And once you get moving, stay moving. Physical activity can look different for everyone. Often, the hardest part is just getting started. Here are some strategies that may help you reach your movement goals.
Find activities you enjoy.
If you like being outside, gardening or hiking are great ways to keep moving. If you enjoy socializing or want to build a community, try a new workout class.
A little bit is always better than nothing at all. If you don’t have any organized movement or exercise in your current routine, try to intentionally move for 10 minutes a day – walk from the back of the parking lot, run around the park with your kids, or break up time at your work desk with a bout of squats or jumping jacks. These movement “snacks” can add up throughout the day.
Make it a habit.
Think WHEN not IF, you will add movement into your day. Add it to your calendar – make an appointment with yourself, just like you would for any other designated activity. We schedule time for doctor’s appointments, why not schedule time for proactive (instead of reactive) health care?
Try something new.
Maybe you’ve been active – enjoying time outside or in the gym – but things are just feeling stale. Don’t be afraid to try something new – a new class (like Spin or Pilates) or a new hobby (when was the last time you went ice skating or rollerblading?). Other ways to refresh your exercise routine include inviting a friend, adding music or your favorite podcast, or taking things outside. And lastly, but most importantly –
Find your WHY.
Find things that are meaningful to you – things that complement your life. Do you have a grandchild you want to be able to lift? Can you lift heavy things, like a bag of groceries from the floor or putting a suitcase in the overhead bin of an airplane? A weightlifting program can help you reach that goal. Have an upcoming trip to Europe? A walking and/or hiking regimen can help you optimize your trip. Are you able to do all of the things that you want to without feeling physically limited? Increasing your physical activity can maintain and improve your independence.
How Can Physical Therapy Help?
Limited by pain, past or current injury, balance, or weakness? Call, text, or email and schedule an appointment today. Here at Evolve Physical Therapy, our goal is to keep you Active For Life, so you can Move Better, Feel Better, and Live Better.
If You Are In Pain When You Are Physically Active – WE CAN HELP!
Thank you for reading 5 Ways Physical Activity Can Help With Stress Management And 4 Strategies For Success. We hope it has helped you understand a little more about how being physically active can help reduce stress.
Join us for specialized physical therapy in Portland;
For a thorough evaluation and individualized treatment, contact our Sherwood clinic or our Bethany clinic today, and be seen in less than 48 hours.
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