Exercise can be daunting, especially if you try and weed through all of the recommendations that exist. Often people wonder what the bare minimum is they have to do to be healthy. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends thirty minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week for health benefits. This is the bare minimum for heart health and does not address bone health, strength and flexibility, or even increased physical fitness. In an ideal world, you would get cardiovascular activity of varying degrees of length and intensity most days of the week. I am absolutely not suggesting you take up a 6 day a week running program. That will result in burnout and possibly injury. Rather, I am suggesting you get 30-60 minutes of cardiovascular activity six days a week, with some of those exercise sessions a little longer in duration and a little less intense and others perhaps a little shorter in duration with bouts of increased intensity. This will keep you physically fit and enable you to keep up with your children/younger sister/marathon running parents. It will do wonders for your endurance and it will keep you young and physically fit. Any form of cardiovascular activity will do, such as walking, jogging, biking, swimming, ellipticalling… Just make sure you keep it interesting and don’t do the same thing every day. You will get bored.
Twice a week, do some form of strength training. It could be working out with a personal trainer, taking a strength training class at the gym, or participating in a strength training routine on your own. Just make sure you are lifting weights correctly. This serves two purposes: it will be the most effective use of your time and it will reduce risk of injury. Nobody wants to waste time or be injured, so if you are going to do it on your own, read a lot about it or have just one session with a trainer to go over proper form. Strength training should take anywhere from 30-60 minutes and can easily be done on your shorter exercise days. I know right now you are thinking, “but I don’t have an hour or an hour and a half to devote each day to exercise.” Make time. This is your health and it will do more to keep you healthy than cocktail hour or that TV show that is waiting for you.
Lastly, stretch, at least twice a week, for five to ten minutes. If you don’t think you have time to stretch, make time. Stretching can be done at home, any time of the day, and is easily done during commercials. Pilates or yoga are excellent forms of exercise that take care of stretching and some of the strengthening. They are also more meditative forms of exercise, which can be good after a long day. Try a variety of things to see what you like. Just make sure you move often and with a sense of purpose. You only have one body- use it.