Our lifestyles are not what they used to be. Long commutes, desk jobs, and fast food have helped obesity rates to skyrocket. How many minutes in a week do we sit down? According to the National Health Service (NHS) England, on average, adults sit more than seven hours a day. How many minutes in a week do we exercise? Not nearly enough to stay healthy.
Healthy lifestyles are difficult to maintain when you’re strapped to a chair for seven or more hours a day. But there is no need to be chained to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Making the decision to get more active is the first step. The second step is to get out of our chairs and exercise. Sound simple, right? Not always. Change is not easy if you don’t know the end goal. You need to know how much physical activity is recommended per day for the average adult. Then you can build a list of physical activities for adults that are fun and healthy.
Examine Your Lifestyle – Be honest!
Little activity, lots of sugar, and large doses of fatty foods work together to make us unhealthy. Change these three things, and you’ll notice the significant benefits to your health.
Be honest with yourself and look at what you do day in day out. How much time do you spend watching TV, gaming, staring at your laptop, tablet or phone? How much time are you actively burning off calories with moderate to high exercise levels? When you add all the ‘static’ times many people will be clocking up hours of inactivity every day.
Let’s simplify things. Throw out the fast food and sugar. Get out of your chair. Throw in some exercise, and you’ve won the war against an unhealthy lifestyle.
The working adult with a desk jobs faces a high risk of obesity and other health issues because we barely move out of our chairs while at work. Sitting down for most of the day is an extremely unhealthy way to live.
After work, we’re tired. We lie on the couch or relax in the recliner and watch TV. Humans were made to be active. Bend, stand, go up and down stairs, reach, tip toe, run, jog, turn, squat, and jump should all be things that we do every single day.
Incorporate some of these activities into your daily habits. You’ll notice you feel better and have more energy. So, now we answer the question, “How much physical activity should an adult have each week? And what type is best?
Exercise is the Key
There are two types of exercise that adults need every day: strength and aerobic. Strength will build muscle while aerobics increases the metabolism. How much physical activity is recommended per day? The end goal is to reach a total of at least 150 minutes of exercise per week of aerobics plus two days of strength training. And they must work all the body parts (heart, legs, shoulders, arm, and abdomen).
If the thought of 150 minutes of exercise per week is daunting, break it into smaller chunks to better comprehend it. Think of 30 minutes a day for five days instead. If that’s too much, think of it as three 10-minute mini-sessions a day.
Managing 150 Minutes of Exercise per Week
Aerobic activities are designed to increase the heart rate and breathing. Anything that is exerting and requires a bit of extra effort is considered aerobic. If it increases the heart rate, then it’s working.
You could try:
- Fast walking
- Stair climbing
- Getting on a treadmill
- jumping jacks
Add Strength Training Twice a Week
Along with the 150 minutes of exercise per week, strength exercises need to be included in at least two or more of those days. This is good old fashioned repetition at its best. The point is to build muscle from repeatedly using that muscle. Incorporate at least one set of 12 repetitions of this into your day by:
- Lifting some hand weights (even if they’re only three pounds each and you’re on the phone at work)
- Sitting and rising from your chair (which translates to doing squats)
- Stand on tiptoe, then release and repeat (do while standing on the train on the way to work)
At home, try to build a workout regimen of one to two sets of:
- Leg raises
Another great strength builder is yoga. It involves all the muscle groups by stretching and forcing them to into use through resistance. When I don’t feel like doing boring sets of lifting hand weights, I do thirty minutes of yoga in the living room with the help of an inexpensive yoga DVD or a free YouTube clip. A half hour on the treadmill afterwards gets you on your way to meeting the recommended amount of physical activity per week needed to get healthy.
Exercise Combats an Unhealthy Lifestyle
Lack of exercise increases the risk of diabetes, heart attack, obesity, high blood pressure, and bone fractures. It can also increase the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Exercise keeps muscles strong and flexible. Tight muscles don’t stretch, making simple movement difficult or painful. Strong muscles protect bones which decreases chances of breaking them.
It regulates blood sugar and blood pressure. Muscles get hungry when stimulated. They require more energy from food. Have you ever seen a bodybuilder eat? Fat cells remain stagnate, but muscles will burn through calories like crazy.
Build muscles to burn calories thus losing weight. A diet high in vegetables, low in carbs, mixed with at least 150 minutes of exercise per week will get you on the path to a healthier life.
There’s a long list of physical activities for adults that can be implemented into your day. It doesn’t matter if it’s at work or home. Adding a physical activity like a 15-minute walk to your day helps to increase the blood flow. This jump starts the metabolism to burn calories.
It increases brain activity, making you more alert. It stretches the ligaments of the hips to ease back and leg pain. It flushes toxins from the muscles which reduces aches, pains, and fatigue.
Moving your body for at least two minutes after sitting for 30 minutes has proven to improve health benefits greatly. Sit for a half hour, then walk down the hall and back. Your back and legs will thank you for it.
Try to incorporate some extra activity into your day. For the working adult, try:
- Parking an extra block away from your office
- Take the stairs, even if it’s just to the next floor up and then catch the elevator the rest of the way
- Take three 10-minute walks during the day instead of a 30 minute lunch break
- On a rainy day, walk up two flights of stairs and back down
- Ride a bike to work
At home, try:
- Using a push mower to cut the yard, or at least a portion
- Play basketball or volleyball
- Take the dog and kids on a hike
- Walk around the block
- Mentally stay off the couch longer and do something else
- Turn off distracting devices that keep you static – such as the TV
The bottom line is that regular exercise offers you great ongoing benefits. The US Centres for Disease control and Prevention (CDC) cite the major benefits of regular physical activity:
- Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Reduce your risk of some cancers
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mental health and mood
- Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
- Increase your chances of living longer
For a little bit of effort and willpower this is one heck of a list of benefits that one day could save your life from being shortened.
Make 150 minutes of exercise per week the goal. Track your progress by using a pedometer, or jot down your activity and times during the day. When you can perform an exercise with little effort, it’s time to make it harder.
Do two sets of reps instead of one. Take an extra flight of stairs. Run instead of walk fast. Walk around the block a couple extra times. Before you know it, that 150 minutes of exercise per week will get easier and easier.
Change your exercise mindset!
Within a few days of frequent physical exercise you will feel mentally more alert and able to tackle mundane tasks more easily. The buzz you get from exercise is a great way to propel you into a much healthier and happier lifestyle.
You don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to get there. You just need to set goals, make the effort and turn that effort into a healthy habit.
Once you have got into a routine that you are happy with it will become second nature and not a bind. It will change your life for good and for your own good!