Doing Something Trumps Doing Nothing

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Last month I had the privilege to attend a running symposium sponsored by one of my local area hospitals here in Dallas.  The highlight of the event was having the opportunity to listen to and ask questions of legendary running coach, Greg McMillan. As a long time fan of his, I was like a kid meeting her local sports superstar. To me he embodies the sensibility of what it takes to become not just a runner, but a life-long runner.

One of the most important lessons I took away from that day was that even in times of stress many of us can carve out ten minutes to do something. And usually that ten minutes can make a huge difference in how we approach the emotional stress in our lives.
Exercise is a physical stress placed on our bodies which in turn forces our bodies to adapt over time to that stress. But what do we do when we are bombarded with the emotional stress of day to day living? What happens when our little ones get sick or the water heater begins leaking? What happens when we are forced to work late therefore we miss our weekly Zumba class?  

While professional athletes get paid to train and participate in their chosen sport, most of us have to work our exercise in and around our daily lives. I can't begin to tell you how many times I missed a workout because something unexpectedly came up that kept me from running or getting to the gym that day.  For this reason I do my best to schedule my workouts just like I do any other important appointment, but I will confess, I don't always get in a run even when I know I should, just because too many other things take priority.

During our talk, Coach McMillan made it a point to say even if life gets in the way, if we can just carve out enough time for a ten minute run, it could do wonders for our health and emotional benefit. As the old saying goes, "no run, no matter how short is ever wasted, but a run that is missed will always be  a run that is missed."
In a recent USA Today article the American College of Sports Medicine is taking the same stance--that regardless of what the guidelines instruct us to do, whenever we strive to become more active in our lives we are moving toward a healthier way of living.

According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, most people need:

-2 hours 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate intensity activity a week OR

-1 hour 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous activity per week OR

A combination of the two. This is to maintain a level of physical activity.

When you increase the amount to 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate activity or 150 minutes (2 hrs 30 min) of vigorous activity per week OR a combo of both you will receive added health benefits.

Add in 2 sessions of full body resistance training per week and you should be good to go.
But even these guidelines may be a tad too overzealous for many of us. We all know the long term health effects of living a sedentary lifestyle, but what if we can all learn to embrace just getting up and moving. Just maybe, we can turn the tide of unhealthy living. From someone who could only do 10 minutes on the elliptical six years ago, I am glad back then I did not feel the need to conform to the guidelines mentioned above. For me it wasn't so much that I did not have the time, although that was a factor, but more I did not have the stamina to do more than my 10 minutes, two or three times a day. Fast forward to today and I more than meet the guidelines, but I am glad I was able to do it at my speed and under my terms.

Do you believe that the fitness industry is conforming too much to those who are sedentary or do you find it is helpful in just getting those who do not commit to exercise up and moving?

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