In 1990 the United States Surgeon General determined that inactivity was hazardous to our health. This was a big day for me for years earlier I had suspected this, but when the Surgeon General announced it people began to heed the warning. In 2000 a study at Harvard University found that vigorous activity decreased mortality by 25%. Based on the information from this study, Dr. Gupta broke down the pros and cons of 4 popular types of exercises and suggests doing one of them at least twice a week. (I suggest trying them all and then mixing them up) Here’s what he came up with:
BEST FOR BURNING CALORIES–RUNNING…An hour at 7mph (8.5 minute mile) will use 854 calories. Running, no doubt, can be tough on joints but it can also improve bone density (big time). If you have the luxury, you can run barefoot on the beach. Running barefoot forces us into great postural alignment which drastically reduces injury to hips, knees and ankles.
BEST FOR CREAKY JOINTS–CYCLING…Spend an hour cycling at 14-16mph and you can burn about 740 calories. While running is a more efficient workout, pedaling clearly causes less wear and tear!
BEST FOR A TOTAL-BODY WORKOUT–SWIMMING…About an hour in the pool, swimming at a moderate pace, you can spend about 500+ calories and unlike the above 2 workouts, you can work EVERY major muscle group in your body. Swimming obviously takes most of the stress off your joints so it’s a great workout for someone who is challenged by the land workouts. The better your stroke gets though, the harder you’ll have to work to keep the calorie burn up. With as much exercise as I do, I am always shocked at how demanding swimming is, each spring when I get back in the pool, another reminder we have to keep mixing things up!
BEST FOR REDUCING STRESS–YOGA…We all know that yoga is not as aerobically taxing as the above 3 workouts, or many others, but you can still use up a couple of hundred calories in an hour of “downward dogs.” Plus its great for our central nervous system as it helps slow down our pulse, a key to heart health!
And just about a week or two ago, lots of negative news was reported regarding the higher risk of mortality directly associated with higher amounts of “sitting time.” I don’t think we were designed to sit behind a desk all week, yet more and more, that’s just what many of us are doing. If you spend your days at the computer and your nights in front of the TV it’s absolutely crucial you try to fit a few easy routines into your work day. Here’s a few ideas:
Take six 5 minute walks a day or one half hour walk during your lunch hour. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirmed that walking at 4mph for a combined total of 150 minutes a week led to modest weight loss and more importantly, the ability to maintain a healthy weight over the course of years.
Do 5 different stretches every hour. To avoid the pains that endless sitting causes, do a series of light, standard stretches for 15 seconds. If you need some suggestions you can visit mayoclinic.com and search “office stretches.” I hope my webmaster is reading this from his desk…
Lift during lunchtime. Noon is physiologically one of the best times of the day to exercise. If you work near a gym you can grab a piece of fruit on your way and hit the weights for a half-hour workout and then enjoy a well balanced lunch on your way back to work, or at your desk if possible.
If none of the above work for you, make sure to get yourself outside or to the gym after work most days. You can join me tonight at Tamarac Fitness Center. I’ll be the one with the new music…I forgot that I ordered some new CDs last week. Just by coincidence, they arrived yesterday, as if to say “I read your blog”. Now I have to decide which one to use first! As a hint, I am leaning towards a 70s sing-a-long. See you there, or “see” you back here. Wherever you are, keep moving…your life depends upon it!