Fitting exercise into your daily routine
with advice from Kim Gladfelter, PT, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
We all know the health benefits of exercise: It makes you feel better. It helps you live longer. It reduces your risk of diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s and even the common cold. It stimulates your brain. It maintains your weight and strengthens your heart, lowers blood pressure and improves muscle tone. It lifts your mood, leading some doctors to even prescribe it for depression.
But many people are daunted by the goal set by the American Heart Association of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. So how can you fit in enough exercise to reach that goal?
Kim Gladfelter, a physical therapist and owner of PhysioFit Physical Therapy (a Physiquality network clinic in California), says, “Exercising three to five times a week is enough to make a positive difference in your health.” If it’s difficult to begin an exercise program, she notes, start with shorter amounts of activity. “Even 10 to 15 minutes a day can improve your mood and reduce depression,” she points out.
If you can, Kim advises, do some type of activity every day. Not only will it lift your mood, but adding stretching and core stabilization exercises into your daily routine can help reduce your chance of injury or re-injury. For example, consider doing the yoga sequence known as sun salutations every morning. It’s a nice way to stretch your muscles and to increase blood flow after being in bed for several hours. (If you’re not familiar with the poses, you can watch videos of the full sequence, as well as one modified for beginners.)
While Kim recommends working toward 30-minute workouts of moderate intensity, she says there are plenty of ways to fit exercise into a busy schedule. “Any activity you enjoy is a good place to start,” she advises, to help stay motivated.
If you don’t have time for a run to the gym, think about some of these suggestions:
Walk with the kids to school. Even better, consider organizing a walking program for your school, where parents and children walk the same route every morning and evening rather than riding a bus.
Meet a friend for a walk, rather than for coffee.
Wear a pedometer and increase your daily number of steps. (If you want to buy one, consider the range of pedometers available from Physiquality partner Oregon Scientific.)
Walk the dog.
Clean one room every day at a fast pace. To get you moving, play upbeat music while you clean.
Stretch while watching television.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Walk a lap around the office building at lunch or during a quick break from your computer.
Lastly, Kim reminds readers that any exercise is always better than none. Every little bit helps, she says, especially if you can work out for at least 10 minutes or longer, doing something that gets your heart beating faster and makes you slightly out of breath.
||Kim Gladfelter, PT, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT, is a physical therapist and owner of PhysioFit Physical Therapy in Los Altos, California, a Physiquality member. A certified Pilates instructor and dancer, she has expanded her clinic’s facility to be a complete wellness location, offering classes in Pilates, gyrotonics and suspension training, as well as special programs for golfers and senior citizens.
For further information, look through our selection of articles on the benefits of exercise and sticking with your fitness routine, in addition to the below links:
Henderson, Diedtra. Fit, yet fat? A little exercise may add years to your life. Medscape*, November 6, 2012.
O’Connor, Anahad. Exercise may protect against brain shrinkage. New York Times, October 26, 2012.
Brown, Troy. Weight training, aerobic exercise cut type 2 diabetes risk. Medscape*, August 6, 2012.
Get walking! Physiquality, June 1, 2012.
Bakalar, Nicholas. Daily activity tied to lower Alzheimer’s risk. New York Times, April 27, 2012.
Braff, Danielle. Countdown to better habits: What physical therapists want you to know — and do. Chicago Tribune, March 1, 2012.
Reynolds, Gretchen. Prescribing exercise to treat depression. New York Times, August 31, 2011.
Vaughn, Shamontiel L. Six reasons exercise benefits you. Chicago Tribune, July 6, 2011.
Adams, Jill U. A closer look: The new guidelines for heart health. Los Angeles Times, February 7, 2011.
Chan, Amanda. Regular workouts ward off the common cold: Even a 30-minute walk every day can help, a new study shows. MSNBC, November 1, 2010.
Physiofit Physical Therapy.
Rosenthal, Elisabeth. Students give up wheels for their own two feet. New York Times, March 26, 2009.
*Medscape articles require free registration to read.