Exercising Intelligently & With a Purpose
Humans have always been physically active. Our ancestors and contemporary hunter- gatherers walked an average of 10,000 steps (about five miles) per day with frequent bouts of more intense physical activity.
Even in most Western societies, people were highly physically active until the Industrial Revolution. In the 1800s, approximately 90 percent of jobs in America required manual labor.
Yet today, we’ve become a nation of sitters. Fewer than 2 percent of jobs require manual labor. We spend endless hours working at computers, watching TV, playing video games, or commuting. The typical US adult is now sedentary for 60 percent of his or her waking hours, and sits for an average of six hours (and often much more, in the case of those who work desk jobs and/or with computers). A sedentary office worker expends only ten calories per pound each day, down from the hunter-gatherer’s average of 43 to 55 calories per pound per day.
Establishing a strong foundation for a new exercise routine starts with awareness. Awareness of YOUR mindset, behaviors, triggers, posture, biomechanics, limitations, and feedback mechanisms are all important.
So, before you go investing or diving into a new workout program based on popular belief or price, pause for a moment and ask yourself if you’re decision(s) helps you move closer to truly taking care of yourself for the long-term.
Simply put, we need to move more. Movement can include all kinds of activities. There is no best activity. However, activities that require movement in all planes and ranges of motion, include external loading (resistance/weight training), and challenge the body’s cardio-respiratory system at various levels provide countless health benefits. Keep your fitness program varied – stimulate positive change with new types of physical challenges. Stay within your own unique limitations and listen to the signals your body sends you specific to exercise stressors – don’t ignore constantly feeling sore, fatigued, hurt, or injured.
Here are some general guidelines to create a strong foundation for solid fitness success:
- 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week (e.g hiking, yoga, or resistance training); or,
- 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week (e.g. running, playing sports, or resistance training); or,
- 30 sets of highest-intensity activity per week (e.g. sprinting, jumping rope, or resistance training); or,
- Some combination of the above
Moderate, vigorous, and highest-intensity activity are defined as follows:
- Moderate: 50 to 70 percent of maximum effort
- Vigorous: 70 to 90 percent of maximum effort
- Highest-intensity: greater than 90 percent of maximum effort
Last, enlist the help of some qualified resources! A personal fitness coach is a great place to get started. You might not need them for everything. But, having them there to start and to point you in the right direction could save you a lot of frustration, time, or even grief in the long run (think injuries or set-backs). Consistency will be key and frustrations will arise. A solid personal fitness coach and/or a well-organized schedule of fitness classes can help with both.