Physical Activity: How Much Do You Need and Getting it Done in Less Time

Last month I attended a professional meeting , SCAN (Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition dietetic practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). The  program planners gave me a gift: they made incorporating some physical activity into my day easy by scheduling an early morning yoga class on the first day, and  early morning group runs on all the other meeting days. Horray for an organization that practices what it preaches!

Let’s face it, somedays it’s easier to find time to exercise  than other days and most people consider not having enough time in the day their single biggest  barrier. I tend to agree, and although I  enjoy exercise, I’m not immune from thoughts of  skipping it altogether when  I get overwhelmed with work, or even when I have other things I want to do,  like planting flowers and working in my yard .
However,  I know that some activity is better than no activity, and I feel I can maintain my  fitness goals with the  solution of decreasing  my overall time spent exercising , but increasing the overall intensity of my activity.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans conclude that most health benefits occur with a minimum of 150 minutes a week (2 hours 30 minutes) of moderate intensity physical activity, or  75 minutes  a week (one hour 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. In addition, muscle strengthening activities that are moderate to high intensity and involve all major muscle groups  should be incorporated twice a week.

When work piles up and deadlines loom,  or  when I just want more time to enjoy my favorite hobbies,  I exercise harder, but  spend less overall time exercising. For example,  if I’m doing  strengthening exercises, I  limit the time between sets.  I can accomplish a 30 minute workout in 20 minutes, and keep my heart rate elevated as well. This strategy not only increases my efficiency, it’s one of the ways I  believe I ‘ve been able to reduce my fit age. One final thought before I close,  remember to integrate nutrition and  training by properly fueling prior to  exercise. A high carbohydrate snack is usually just the burst of energy I need to power through a vigorous workout.  Coming soon, my  favorite pre-workout snacks.)



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