A few years ago, the institute of Medicine (IOM) released a lengthy report recommending that, as part of a routine regiment to maintain our cardiovascular health, ideal body weight and ideal body composition, we all — that is, each and every one of us — need to engage in 60 minutes of daily moderate physical activity.
Furthermore, the experts over at the IOM made it crystal clear that they are not talking about merely accumulating the equivalent of an hour of exercise during one’s daily activities (such as climbing stairs or doing the laundry). What they’re talking about is adding 60 minutes of honest-to-goodness sustained moderate intensity exercise. Specifically, the equivalent of walking or jogging at a 4 to 5 miles per hour pace. Add that to whatever other activities we might perform during the course of a normal day.
You might be asking how did they come up with an hour a day? The experts who wrote this report for the IOM are scientist. Every word in this report is backed up by references from scientific studies, carefully interpreted in the light of the whole body of evidence accumulated by medical science. This report is a comprehensive synthesis of what is known (and not known) today about optimizing our caloric intake (carbohydrates, fat, protein, etc.) and our output (physical activity) in order to maintain an advisable weight, a favorable body composition (ie., proportion of muscle to fat), and cardiovascular health.
A whole hour; really? While an hour a day of exercise may indeed be just the thing for us, most of us don’t do any because of other obligations, but we do have to be realistic and try to at least put in something. Some is better than nothing. We may not lose any drastic weight but we can do something to help control our cardiac risk.
Here are just a few ideas to get you started and to help someone else.
Motivating others to be physically active will give you the start that you may need. Be open and listen. Listen to the challenges, brainstorm solutions, offer a pat on the back, and celebrate any progress. Help it happen. Volunteer to take over a household errand to make time for your friend to go to her weekly basketball game. Walking with a friend is a wonderful way to be active. Try activities that are just right for
two — dance lessons or doubles tennis, and challenge your friend to a weekly Ping-Pong game.
Don’t be judgmental. Negative comments about appearance or performance can quickly halt efforts to be active.
For additional information on the benefits of physical activity for your heart healthy needs, contact Lethia Lee at 910-592-7161 or by e-mail Leitha_Lee@ncsu.edu.
Leitha Lee is the EFNEP program assistant for the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program with the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center.