For most of us — at least those of us in the northern hemisphere — ski season is either over or drawing to a close. If you’re like me, you find this very, very sad. But if you’re also like me, you don’t let that stop you from being physically active. If you did, that’d be very, very sad, as well.
Staying active is critical to your well being, both mentally and physically. I don’t need to go into all the studies that prove exercise is good for just about everything that ails you. You’ve heard about them all before.
Incredibly, the message seems to be lost on a lot of people. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that just 20 percent of adults in the U.S. are meeting both the aerobic and muscle strengthening components of the federal government’s physical activity recommendations.
Twenty percent. That’s not a big number.
The data are based on self-reported information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System — an annual phone survey of adults aged 18 and over conducted by state health departments.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, every adult should get a minimum of 2-1/2 hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as walking, or 1-1/4 hours a week of intense aerobic activity such as jogging. The guidelines also say that adults should do some muscle-strengthening activities such as push-ups, sit-ups, or activities with the use of resistance bands or weights. These activities should involve all major muscle groups and be done on two or more days per week.
But the report highlights that just 50 percent of adults are getting the recommended amount of aerobic exercise, and 30 percent the required amount of muscle-strengthening activity. It also found differences among states. The rates of adults meeting the overall guidelines ranged from 27 percent in Colorado to 13 percent in Tennessee and West Virginia. The West (24 percent) and the Northeast (21 percent) had the highest proportion of adults who met the guidelines. Women, Hispanics, older adults, and obese adults were less likely to meet the guidelines.
Read that last sentence again. Yes, it says women. And I have to say it’s easy to see why. A lot of women have a hard time finding time for themselves. Between jobs, taking care of the house, taking care of the kids, it’s not always easy to find time to work out.
Most of the women reading this blog are fairly active, at least over the winter months. Makes sense, since this is a ski blog. But just because skiing’s over doesn’t give you a pass to sit on the couch. (Yes, this means you! I can see you through your computer screen.) It’s important for all of us to make exercise a priority all year round, During the off season, I bike, swim, and work out in the gym. It’s good for my health, it keeps me going, and it keeps me in shape for the ski season to come.
Even if you can’t work out every day, try to make some time to do it at least enough to meet the exercise guidelines. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, here are some ways to make that happen:
• Take a brisk walk for 30 minutes on five days (moderate intensity); exercise with resistance bands two days (muscle strengthening).
• Run for 25 minutes three days (vigorous intensity); lift weights on two days.
• Take a brisk walk for 30 minutes two days (moderate); go dancing for an hour one evening (moderate); mow the law for 30 minutes (moderate); do heavy gardening two days (muscle strengthening).
• Do 30 minutes of an aerobic dance class (vigorous); do 30 minutes of running one day (vigorous); take a brisk walk for 30 minutes one day (moderate); do calisthenics (sit-ups, push-ups) on three days.
• Bike to and from work for 30 minutes on three days (moderate); play softball for 60 minutes one day (moderate); use weight machines two days.
• Play doubles tennis for 45 minutes two days (moderate); lift weights one day; hike vigorously for 30 minutes and go rock climbing one day (muscle strengthening).
So what about you? Are you meeting the guidelines? And if not, what do you plan to do about it?