An Hour a Day: Seven Time-Saving Exercise Tips for Good Health

Submitted by SharpHealth Team on Tuesday 12th October 2010
In this article
  • The latest information about exercise and maintaining good health.
  • Why maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important.
  • What you can do about maintaining good health.

All too often we put our own personal health too far down on the priority list. It ends up getting overlooked because we’re rushing to work, heading off to our kid’s soccer practice or finally getting a chance to open mail and pay the bills. To add insult to injury, the Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board (FNB)–the folks responsible for developing RDAs in the United States for the last 60 years–have recently released a study recommending that, regardless of age or body weight, a person should exercise one hour per day to maintain good health. That’s twice the time recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General in 1996.

Why Stay Healthy?

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in the United States. And, according to Robert Robergs, assistant professor of exercise physiology and biochemistry at the University of New Mexico, sedentary SharpMen have nearly twice the risk of developing CHD as physically active guys. Robergs also points to the fact that physical activity can lower blood pressure, lower the amount of "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and increase the amount of "good" cholesterol (HDL).

If that doesn’t motivate you, this fact should: regular physical activity reduces the chance of impotence and improves your sexual desire and ability. Plus you’ll be feeling more confident and looking better than ever.

What You Can Do

How can the SharpMan find the time to exercise for an hour a day? Good news: it can be done without spending more time at the health club. The FNB study doesn’t say you need to exercise for an hour all at once or all on the same activity.

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Here are seven SharpHealth tips to help you integrate more physical activity into your daily routine:

One: Commute on Two Wheels Instead of Four. Trade in your car for a bike. Well, maybe you're not quite ready for that yet, but you can start biking your way to and from work or anywhere else you commute on a regular basis. Pedaling your commute instead of driving is great way to increase your physical fitness, drop a few extra pounds and up your cardiovascular net worth.

Two: Walking Works. When you look closely at your daily routine, you’ll probably find numerous opportunities to do a little extra walking: park a little further away than normal; take the stairs instead of the elevator; explore the neighborhood on a walk with your kids; get off the bus a couple stops early. Extra walking provides an easy, painless way to increase daily physical activity. And for maximum benefit, you should generally walk as briskly as your body and circumstances will allow.

Three: Quality Not Quantity. When your time to exercise becomes limited, harder is better. By doing a more intense workout it’s entirely possible to get the same benefits as exercising for longer. For example, if you normally run for 35 minutes on the treadmill at 6.0 mph but find yourself with only 30 minutes to work out, cut the time you run to 20 minutes and run at a speed faster than 6.0 mph–a speed at which you’re running hard enough to feel like you’re really working, but easy enough to maintain the pace for the entire 20 minutes. When in a time crunch, 20 minutes will be your magic number for most cardiovascular exercises. And, the key to quality is to workout at an intensity level that is just out of your comfort zone.

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Four: Weights While You Surf. Next time you’re surfing the Internet, try wearing those little Velcro ankle weights (that you have stuffed in a box in your basement) around your wrists. This simple task is not as easy as it sounds and will make a sedentary task active by requiring more energy to do the same thing. Also, when not typing or "mousing," take advantage of the extra weight by doing curls or arm circles.

Five: Home Treadmills. For those of you with a treadmill in your home or, those needing a reason to get one, the home treadmill can provide you many opportunities to increase physical activity. (Check out our article Winter Workouts on the Treadmill.) No more skipping workouts with excuses about crowded health clubs or bad weather. With a little ingenuity and creativity, you can save time and burn calories by combining walking or running with other daily activities. For example, if you have a laptop computer, you can work up a sweat while you type by fashioning a setup that allows you to be on the computer while walking. Doing other sedentary activities like watching TV or playing video games can also help pass the time on a long run or walk. The rule of thumb is to keep the pace brisk but manageable. You want to be able to coordinate whatever you’re doing without taking a nasty spill off the back of the treadmill.

Six: Get the Kids Involved. Trying to raise SharpKids? Show your kids the value of staying active and being healthy at an early age. Not only will your children imitate your habits and become more active themselves, but making "quality time" an active pursuit is also a great way to increase the amount of time you spend off the couch each day. Have your son ride his bike with you on a jog, or make up a game with your daughter that includes lots of running and jumping. The key is to find activities that will get your heart pumping while spending bonding time with your kids.

Seven: Take Active Breaks at Work. If you’re a cube warrior, sitting in front of a computer screen all day or doing any other job that has you spending more time sitting than standing, then it’s important to get in the habit of taking active breaks while at work. Forget working through lunch. Get up and walk around. Do some impromptu dips using your chair. Jog up and down the stairs a few times. Go for a walk around the building–inside or out. And, always take the stairs instead of the elevator. Not only will you be able to get in extra activity each day, but you’ll feel much more refreshed and be more productive than your sedentary coworkers when the mid-day drag hits.

It Can Be Done!

With a little creativity, the SharpMan can accomplish the seemingly unlikely task of exercising an hour a day. The seven tips mentioned here will hopefully spark your own imagination on how you can take the FNB recommendation to the bank by integrating more physical activity into your daily routine.

This article last updated on Tuesday 12th October 2010
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