Part 2: So you think you’re not active?
So you think you’re not active? Does this mean you don’t engage in structured exercise? Does this mean you sit most of the day and rarely take breaks? Does this mean that you exercise 1-2 times per week, but don’t meet the current guidelines (30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity accrued in at least 10 minute bouts)?
Just because you don’t hit the gym 5 days a week doesn’t mean you’re not active. Many people don’t take into account the physical activities performed around the home – cooking, cleaning, gardening, etc. Many of us may be more active than we actually think.
I have experienced this first hand with my current research. In my research participants wear devices called accelerometers (fancy pedometers) which measure motion and provides me a measure of calories burned for each minute of wear. From this I am able to tell how active people are at home. A number of participants report (via questionnaire) that they do not meet the guidelines. Yet when I take a look at their accelerometers, they actually surpass the guidelines.
Now I don’t want to send the wrong message – that if you’re active at home you don’t need to engage in structured exercise. That is definitely NOT what I am getting at. What I am trying to get at is that we are likely more active (not in all cases) than we tend to think. We beat ourselves up for not getting to the gym but forget that we took the stairs, walked the dog, went for an hour-long grocery shop and cleaned the bathroom (all in one day). We engage in negative self-talk (not always) about not getting in our structured exercise. In the long run, this type of internal discussion will only further hinder attempts to engage in and maintain exercise. Perhaps knowing that you’re actually active, actually engaged in improving your health, you will be motivated to do it more.
The preliminary findings (very preliminary) of my current research suggest that physical activity accumulated outside of the gym is positively associated with fitness. Fitness is an indicator of heart health and longevity. This is exciting. This suggests that what we do at home isn’t going to waste, that it is, in fact contributing to our health.
Messages of this post: You are likely more active than you give yourself credit for. Don’t engage in negative self-talk if you can’t get your structured exercise in. If you are active at home/work you are doing yourself good. Appreciate that you will gain more benefit from regular, structured and intense exercise, but that sometimes (understandably) a workout is just not possible.
Reducing negative self-talk will (in my opinion) improve long-term motivation to stick with your exercise regime.