Friday, July 24, 2015

Advice for Couch Potatoes

Photo: Leeroy

In a perfect world I could be a couch potato all day and be content. Throw in some cheesecake and Quincy, ME reruns and I wouldn't have to get up until bedtime!

But anybody with an experience in elementary gym class knows that's not a good idea. (I remember Mr. Jankowski making us run around the gym. Ugh.) And anybody over the age of 10 knows we need to be active to stay healthy and in some form of physical shape. And that shape should not be round.

The experts in our lives tell us we need 30 minutes of physical activity every day to maintain health. Honestly, it's the rare, dedicated person who can do that, or will even attempt to do that. Thirty-minutes every day?! Who has time?

And the couch potatoes said…amen!

But be active we must, because now that I'm over 50 (and chances are, so are you) I have to work 30% harder just to maintain where I am. Get lazy for one second and the flab sneaks in. 

Ideally, vigorous intensity activity should be done to get your heart rate up, but I'll be real here, I don't like to sweat, or breathe hard, or…sweat.

So I opt for the moderate intensity activity, usually a brisk walk. Walking will get my heart rate up and I enjoy being outside with nature. In the winter, I get up early and walk the mall before it opens. Perfect!

So what can you do to improve your activity?
Park farther away from the door when you go to the store
Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator
Walk in your neighborhood
Stand while at your computer or desk to work
Vacuum your house (which you will not find on my list, but it's an idea)
Weed the garden
Wash the car by hand (not the automatic, c'mon!)
Ride your bike
Dance to some great music
Lift 5# weights for 20 reps
Use a Pilates ball
Take the grandkids to the park

Americans have become very sedentary, especially with handheld devices like the iPad or even a laptop. (Guilty.) It's showing in our health and our weight. 

Do what you can to reduce the time you sit. Movement and exercise have tremendous benefits to our health, even if we do just a little bit. 

Regular Moderate Activity Lowers Risk Of:
Heart Disease and Stroke
Type 2 Diabetes
Cancer (breast, colon)

I can testify to dementia reduction. My mother-in-law was around 80-years-old when she fell and broke her hip. Until that time she walked a couple of miles every day and was extremely sharp. After her fall when she was no longer able to get around, she aged 10 years and dementia was a rough thing to see overtake her mind. It was sad. (I met Ma when she was 62 and she jogged 3 miles a day!)

So how much should you do? Starting from square one, aim for 10 minutes per day, 3 times a week and build from there. If you're keeping it moderate, 10-20 minutes, 4-6 times per week would be ideal. Take Sundays off, unless you're really on a roll. I'm either all in or all out, so I don't usually take days off or I break momentum.

Summer is the best time to get outside and be active while the weather is nice! There are so many places to go and things to do in West Michigan (or wherever you live). But we need to purpose to get up and do something. We can get so lost in our work (or Quincy reruns) that we forget to take care of ourselves. And you are worth taking care of!

INTERVAL TRAINING 101, Dr. Adrian DenBoer
I LOVE this video from my fabulous, wonderful doctor. He talks about interval training and getting the most benefit from your exercise “buck”. Let this inspire you! (If you live in the West Michigan area, he does free seminars the first Monday of every month and would welcome you anytime! You don't need to be a patient. [Click here for info.])

"A 15-minute walk once a week versus total sedentary state reduces a chance of a heart attack by 27%. A 15-minute walk!" ~Dr. DenBoer

What ways do you find to incorporate moderate activity into your life? Or are you more of the vigorous activity person? Share your ideas below or on Twitter or Facebook!