I bet you didn’t know there was a difference between physical activity and exercise, did you? Yup! We need both.
Physical activity are activities we do each day as a part of life – walking to the car from the grocery store, house cleaning, playing with the kids and work-related activities. Exercise is a structured activity specifically done for health benefits, such as running, Zumba, yoga, Spinning, weight lifting, etc. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends we get at least 30 minutes of physical activity, most days of the week. This is in addition to planned exercise.
While there are many forms of exercise, ACSM recommends three categories to be done on a regular basis: cardio-respiratory exercise, resistance exercise and flexibility exercise.
Cardio-respiratory exercise is any activity which raises the heart rate for an extended duration of time. The current guidelines are 150 minutes of moderate-intensity per week. This can be done in small 10 minute bouts, or longer duration like a 45-minute brisk walk. Exercising in small increments such as multiple 10 minute durations can be just as effective as one long session.
One of the most common questions I receive as an exercise professional is: “What is the best form of cardio?” I always answer the same way: “The one you will actually do!” It is vital you find a form of cardio you actually enjoy. If you do not like to run, then do not run! Part of the benefits to exercise is the enjoyment you get from it. I have had clients tell me how much they hate cardio. I often say, it’s not that you dislike cardio, you just have not found a modality you enjoy. Sure, there are going to be readers saying, “There is no cardio I will ever enjoy.” That can happen too, but with all the options we have out there, it is worth it to keep trying options.
Zumba, for example, is awesome cardio. It is dancing in a dimly lit room where no one is watching you. The participants dance and joke and laugh, all while burning an amazing amount of calories. I spoke to Jessica Boyd Swain at Anytime Fitness about her experience with cardio. After the birth of her daughter she found herself with excess weight. She knew she wanted to make a change, so she tried running again. “I used to hate to run, now I love it,” says Jessica. “The only thing that changed my mind was stepping out my front door and deciding to try it." Jessica has lost 75 pounds to date, all from getting up and moving!
I challenge all you readers out there, to two things: first, be aware of your physical activity levels and evaluate if you meet the recommended 30 minutes each day. Second, if you are not currently engaging in a total of 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a week, then get started. Find a fitness center with a Zumba, belly dancing, cross training, pickle ball or cycling class. Search for walking/running groups in your area. I bet with enough effort you can find a form of cardiovascular exercise you love.
Jayme Limbaugh is a mother, wife, avid knitter, coffee addict, aspiring wellness entrepreneur and owner of Anytime Fitness and Crystal Coast Wellness Center.