Strategies to help you get moving

There is agreement among researchers in exercise physiology and nutrition about the benefit of consistent cardiovascular exercise and healthy diet.

Reductions in risk factors for obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers have been seen.

In recent years the benefit of exercise has been shown to be increased with increasing intensity and higher heart rate and effort level. But people who are starting exercise and have been sedentary for a long time not only find difficult and uncomfortable to exercise at moderate to higher intensities, it may be dangerous to do so if they have complicating medical conditions like pre-existing cardiovascular problems.

Here are some strategies and solutions for beginners to become more active and less sedentary.

Walking can be a great way to get moving and improve your fitness. Targets of 10,000 steps per day have been promoted as having beneficial effects at reducing blood pressure and body mass. In one study walking 10,000 steps at a leisurely pace produced some of these modest changes in the body, but researchers found that if 2,000 to 4,000 of these steps were taken at brisk pace the health benefits increased in number and degree.

Having a pedometer can help keep track of how much walking you are doing during the day and can help keep you focussed on your goals.

Another strategy is to make use of everyday movement opportunities. Here are some other ideas to help you move more.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If the building at work has many floors take the stairs part way up, and then use the elevator for the remainder to start with and then increase the number of floors walked over time.

The same applies with taking transit. If you take the bus or train, get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way to your destination.

You can also walk to the corner store instead of driving, or park your car at the far end of the shopping centre parking lot giving you the chance to walk a greater distance.

Walking clubs have sprung up all over in the past decade and provide social interaction with new friends as well as specific dates and times to meet which can help many people on track.

Now that the weather is becoming warmer and a bit dryer, you can incorporate many opportunities to be more active. Plan for lunch-time walks with a co-worker or even at home.

When doing yard work use manual tools like a rake instead of a leaf-blower.

Since sitting is a requirement for many people at work, make yourself some rules that will help you get more exercise. Rather than sending an email to a co-worker, get up and walk to give them your message.

Every time you sit down in your chair, stand up again and then sit. You have just completed one squat exercise. Over the course of a single day you might do 10 squats.

Walk to the farthest bathroom in the worksite facility when going to the restroom (if multiple bathrooms are an option).

If you are sitting at home watching TV, do some exercise during the commercials like sitting and standing, lifting some hand-weights or doing a few push-ups on the floor or against the wall.

The range of movement options are limited by just your imagination. Use any opportunity to become more active, and as always, if you have any health concerns about exercising, see your family doctor.


Kerry Senchyna is the founder, owner and president of West Coast Kinesiology since 1992 and is a provincially registered kinesiologist.

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