The Myth of Moderate Exercise
By Carol Crenna
The accepted advice of getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week isn’t enough to spur any real change in your body weight or shape.
Research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that if you want to see real results, you need a lot more, and if you’ve got over 20 pounds to lose, exercising at least an hour at a time is required.
BURN RUBBER, BURN BLUBBER.
The same study from the University of Pittsburgh following 200 overweight women for two years found that those who lost and kept off 10 per cent of their weight were exercising twice as long as the others, and the biggest losers were active 68 minutes a day, five days a week (about 55 minutes a day more than before the trial began), burning an extra 1,848 calories a week.
Most of us know that physical activity makes us healthy and youthful, reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. But knowing the benefits doesn’t get us moving.
WHAT ARE THE OBSTACLES?
First, we’re deluding ourselves. Many people over-estimate their activity level, or still think they do what they did a couple of years ago.
Look in the mirror to update your self-image and determine how much exercise you are actually doing now, considering life and work changes. When you say that you’re active, compared to whom exactly? At your last workout, could you not have pushed yourself an extra 10 minutes?
BE YOUR OWN PARENT.
If you’re feeling apathetic about dragging yourself to the gym or playing with your kids outside, force yourself to do it. It’s called “loving discipline,” and is no different than teaching your child why they can’t watch TV when they have homework to finish, or to get to bed on time.
You don’t want to have to deal with a crying or angry child, so why do you insist on it? You do because you love them, and know that this consistent, caring discipline creates guidelines which become habits for life.
You need to give yourself the same loving discipline for the rest of your life.
HUMANS ARE LAZY…
Like all other animals, we are prone to conserve energy at all costs for survival. But we don’t have to run from predators or catch food anymore so we don’t use that conserved energy.
The human body, which hasn’t changed in 100,000 years, was made to work. That’s why we have to push ourselves to go through the pain of exercise to reach our goals, and ignore the laziness instinct.
Jump-start your body in the morning by exercising instead of drinking coffee, which will energize you for the entire day. Don’t call it exercise; call it your “new favourite activity.” Commit to an activity that you like to make working out a treat.
Consider only allowing yourself to read a “junk food magazine” (celebrity gossip or fashion) when you’re at the gym. Go for a speed walk in a wealthy neighborhood so you feel like it’s something special.
If you have worked out four times in a week, give yourself a healthy treat, like strawberries in December.
BURN WITHOUT BUSTING.
Write exercise goals into your daily planner. You’re far more likely to complete them if you write them into your schedule four to five days a week. Once they’re down, that important appointment time can’t be canceled.
Create special days of the week like Dancin’-in-the-Street Day – find a new music artist that you like each month and listen to it on your run, or Evil Elevator Day – only take stairs, no elevators, where ever you go.
There is always one hour per day that you can replace what you do (like watching reruns on TV or coming back empty-handed after shopping) with exercise.
Use a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone approach to fitness: Get off of the bus a few stops earlier or park a kilometre away from your destination and walk; take a yoga class with a friend instead of having a coffee visit; and walk your kids to and from school each day.
NO CONFIDENCE IN YOUR ABILITY?
What do you do well? Play an instrument? Cook? How good were you when you first started? Didn’t you envision yourself being better at it, and keep trying until you learned how?
Consider your job. How did you get there? Why didn’t you keep doing your first job forever? Didn’t you set a goal and see yourself being successful in a better job?
A successful athlete’s daily choices about how to spend their lunch hour, whether to have a second drink at the bar or go home to get a good night’s sleep, or whether they chat on the phone for an hour instead of going to the gym all add up. They don’t hope that things will change; they stay focused until it does.
DON’T HIBERNATE THIS WINTER.
It’s estimated that 75 per cent of weight gain happens from November to February, and holidays aren’t the only culprit. Lack of sunlight makes your body produce less of certain brain chemicals including mood-boosting serotonin.
Don’t let bad weather be your excuse to cocoon; instead take your outdoor workout indoors to a gym, climbing facility, pool or dance studio. Or better yet, learn to love the outdoors no matter what the weather forecast brings.