You’re probably doing physical activity every day, without thinking about it.
Every time you climb a set of stairs, mow the lawn, or vacuum the house you’re exercising. And that’s fantastic because sitting and our increasingly sedentary lifestyle is our health’s worst enemy.
But there is a difference between physical activity from taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and exercise. Your daily physical activity is generally light to moderate. The heart rate doesn’t typically get too high, or if it does, it’s not for very long. This activity is in some ways incidental, and often comes in bursts.
Exercise, on the other hand, is planned and intentional, with the goal of acquiring some kind of health benefit, from weight loss, to sport performance. It’s frequently moderate to vigorous, elevating the heart rate for longer periods of time. Any exercise or physical activity at all, of course, is better than none, but our bodies do need to be put under stress on a regular basis.
How you physically exert your body is up to you: running, weight lifting, or sports, but we should consider including 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise in our schedules each day.
If you’re not there yet, start with shorter bouts of exercise throughout the day. Ten minutes morning, afternoon and night add up, and will help you slowly increase to a single 30-minute session.
Or start with one or two days, and work your way up. When exercising, there are three easy ways to measure your exertion level. You can figure out your target heart rate, and take your heart rate. Of course if you have a heart rate monitor or a tech-y watch, it’ll do it for you.
You can measure your rate of perceived exertion on a scale from one to 10. Or my personal favourite, the talk test.
Trying to talk while exercising will let you know immediately how things are going. If you can’t talk at all, you’re exercising vigorously. If you can string together a few sentences at a time, you’re exercising moderately. And if you can carry on a conversation, your exertion level is light.
Our bodies were designed to move. I know we all have full lives, but I also know most of us want long lives, too.
Include exercise when you can, and every day if possible, to increase your chances of longevity, bone health, disease prevention and heart health.
Do what you can with what you have where you are, and always prioritize the positive.
Melissa Sloos is a certified group fitness instructor, spin instructor and co-owner at Coast Fitness in Powell River.