There’s no official registry of New Year’s resolutions, but
“getting more exercise” is surely in the top five. You need at least 150 minutes per week of
moderate heart-pumping exercise to stay fit according to the American Heart
Association. That’s the rule for those of us who don’t go in for heavy aerobics
like running or competitive swimming.
That’s 2 ½ hours, and it sounds like a lot if you’re just thinking about starting a program. You could choose a movie and watch it as you pound the miles on a treadmill.
Fortunately, it’s easier to get that much exercise than you might think. Begin with walking. A moderate pace will do it—meaning you have to cover at least 2.5 miles per hour. Mark off a mile course then walk it. If you finish in 24 minutes or less your pace is on track. A brisk walk for most people is actually faster than that. According to research, the average walking speed for adults is 3 miles per hour or slightly more. It begins to go lower as you age but tends to stay above that level until the late 60s unless you make it a habit to keep up the pace.
A half-hour a day will meet your quota, and the neighborhood is a lot more interesting than the wall in front of a treadmill.
Other ways to get moderate exercise are easy for homeowners or renters who take care of a yard. Regular gardening counts. Mowing the lawn (not on the tractor!) will also suffice. And if your activities include heavy work like digging and hoeing, then you have entered the vigorous exercise zone. You only need 75 minutes a week of that to make the doctors at AHA smile in approval.
What else? Jump rope. Hula hoop. Shooting baskets. Doubles tennis. Frisbee. Rock climbing. Hiking a hilly trail. Volleyball. Badminton. Energetic table tennis. You can even get it bowling if you go alone or with one other person and keep rolling the balls without sitting down for five minutes between turns.
There’s also dancing. It doesn’t need to be formal aerobics if you hate taking the time for a class. Just turn on the music and move.
It may surprise you, but housework can count, too. Heavy cleaning can improve the fitness of your house and yourself. Sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming count… but only if you work vigorously the whole time without taking breaks. So does energetically washing and waxing the car.
If you like to swim, good. If you like the water, but actually swimming not so much, you can meet your exercise quota by just walking back and forth through waist-high water. Tougher than it sounds!
This could be your excuse for an indulgence you would love to try—sailing? Horseback riding?
As you can see, those 150 minutes start to pile up with a little strategic planning. Sweep and mop the house end to end one day... .wash the car the next... rake leaves and weed the garden on the third day…
With any luck, you won’t have to get on a treadmill and
everyone will think you are working out like a saint.
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