December 2012 – Fitting in Exercise
FACT: We know the valuable health benefits of physical activity, with 75% of adults reporting exercising for health- or weight-related reasons. But recent research has found that health-focused reasons for physical activity might not be the best ones to motivate sustainable participation. A recent study asked midlife participants why they valued exercising, then followed them over one year to discover which values predicted the most participation. Those who exercised for benefits related to health or weight participated 15% to 34% less compared with those who exercised to enhance the quality of their daily life.
HOPE: Exercise that specifically aims to enhance aspects of your life today might optimize the value of exercising and make it more compelling for you to fit into your busy schedules and stressful lives. Explore “in-the-moment” reasons to exercise, such as to feel good, reduce stress, be more relaxed, be a more patient parent, or have better focus at work. This slight change in focus may help you to exercise more!
FACT: Current guidelines on physical activity recommend that children and adolescents participate in 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. But less than half of 6-to-11-year-old children and only 8% of adolescents meet the recommendation. Physical education at school is not the total solution. The Copenhagen School Child Intervention Study found that although children in intervention schools increased their moderate-to-vigorous physical activity by approximately 12 minutes per day, there were only modest changes in the measured health parameters and these changes were not evident three years later.
HOPE: As you consider your holiday gift-giving, add something fitness-related for each family member—such as sports equipment, gym memberships, or gift certificates to sporting goods stores. During breaks from school and work, plan family activities that get everyone moving and having fun together. It’s a gift that can make a difference, since active children have a better chance to grow up to be active adults.
FACT: Do you have sitting disease? Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys suggest that 50% to 70% of us sit more than six hours a day. Sitting time and non-exercise activity have been linked in epidemiological studies to rates of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, back problems, and mood disorders. If you have been sitting for more than an hour, you’ve been sitting too long!
HOPE: By cutting our sitting time in half, our life expectancy would increase by roughly two years. Explore ways you can stand more during your day by pacing when talking on the phone, using a height-adjustable desk, having walk-and-talk meetings, or setting an alarm to remind you to take a walk break after an hour of sitting. If you can stand, you will be more likely to move more and your health will improve.
FACT: Recommended guidelines for adult physical activity are 30 minutes of moderate-intensity daily physical activity five days a week. However, more than 80% of adults don’t meet these guidelines.
HOPE: Don’t have 30 minutes? Take three. In a recent Japanese study, moderate intensity physical activity between 32 seconds and 3 minutes was associated with improvements in components of metabolic syndrome (waist circumference, blood pressure, blood sugar and blood fat levels). Integrating short bouts of activity throughout the day can be a healthy first step toward adopting a more active lifestyle.
Segar, M. L. Eccles, J. S. & Richardson, C. R. (2011). Rebranding exercise: Closing the gap between values and behavior. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 8:94. doi:10.1186/1479-5868-8-94
Bugge, A., El-Naaman, B., Dencker, M., Froberg, K., Holme, I. M., McMurray, R. G. & Andersen, L. B. (2012). Effects of a three-year intervention: The Copenhagen School Child Intervention Study. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 44(7): 1310-1317. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31824bd579
Katzmarzyk, P.T. & Lee, I-M. (2012). Sedentary behaviour and life expectancy in the USA: A cause-deleted life table analysis. BMJ Open 2012; 2: e000828. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-000828.
Ayabe, M., Kumahara, H., Morimura, K., Ishii, K., Sakane, N. & Tanaka, H. (2012). Very short bouts of non-exercise physical activity associated with metabolic syndrome under free-living conditions in Japanese female adults. European Journal of Applied Physiology 112, 3525–3532. doi: 10.1007/s00421-012-2342-8