It’s May! Time to do some spring cleaning on our bodies! We can begin to eat healthier, hydrate better, and move more at any time. And there’s something about Spring that just says “Renewal”.
Toward that end, this month we’re going to focus on movement/activity/exercise. It’s important to note that “exercise” is included here but not as the primary focus. This is because we want to shift our thinking about movement and activity and “get” that the human body simply needs to move. In today’s world, that means most of us need to move more than we currently do. Purposeful workouts are great and I highly recommend them if your goal is to get “in shape” or “fit” or “toned”. But if your goal is to “be healthy” or “ get healthier” (which should be the first goal, regardless) then we need to reframe our thinking around activity, movement, and exercise.
And because my focus is on helping “women of a certain age” (any age over 35), then we want to talk specifically about what works for us. Current research definitively demonstrates that “older adults adapt to cardiorespiratory (cardio) and functional/resistance (strength and endurance) training to the same relative extent as younger individuals* That means that we can get healthier and fitter at any age!
So let’s start by figuring out how to get more movement into our lives on a daily basis. The human body was not designed to do bootcamp for 45-90 minutes M,W,F and then sit for the rest of the week. Nor was it designed to do Pilates or Yoga for a couple of hours a week and then be mostly sedentary the other times. It was designed to move….all day, every day. Now that may seem like an impossibility in today’s world but it actually is doable!
So I challenge you this week to implement the strategy put forth by my favorite exercise physiologist researcher and guru, Len Kravitz, Ph.D (UNM): Len’s strategy? 3 in 30. That means for every 30 minutes in your day, move 3. Impossible you say? It’s really not! 3 minutes to get up from your desk (you could certainly do this while on a conference call!) and do stretches, squats, or twisting and reaching, or marching in place, is so very doable! And it is this strategy that is going to help you beat the stats:
The health-related components of physical fitness-cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, body composition, and flexibility-are all adversely affected by the aging process. Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max),muscle strength and mass, and flexibility all decrease, while total body mass and fat mass both increase (Tuna et al. 2009) Collectively, these changes raise the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, obesity, insulin resistance, back pain, falls, and all-cause mortality, while reducing the ability to perform daily living activities and maintain overall independence.**
That doesn’t sound like good news but as previously noted, although these changes occur with advancing age, they can all be slowed down with a physically active lifestyle. And that shift to a physically active lifestyle can start by taking on my “3 in 30” challenge! It’s so important that we shift the way we think about activity and movement, and yes… exercise! It’s never all or nothing. And your body doesn’t know whether or not you’re working out in the gym or doing push-ups on your desk or office wall!
· Karavidas, A., et al, 2010. Aging and the cardiovascular system. Hellenic Journal of Cardiology, 51 (5), 421-27.
· Tuna, H.D., et al. 2009. Effect of age and physical activity level on Functional fitness in older adults. European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 6 (2), 99.