Get Active

Get Active

17 June, 2014 0

If you can’t fly, than run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward. -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Rule #3 Get ACTIVE – Take at Least 10,000 Steps or 20 Minutes of Moderate Physical Activity 4 Days per Week.”

Start with an amount that you feel comfortable with and gradually build-up.

Even the late great Martin Luther King Jr. could not deliver a motivational speech powerful enough to convince a person that doesn’t want to get active; to do so. 

While I plan on sharing some of the stories that keep me motivated, I could write until my fingers bled to the bone and it still would not be enough to motivate you – if you don’t want to improve.

However, I believe in you. The mere fact that you have visited this blog means that you want to improve.

While, everyone knows that physical activity is essential to good health, people tend to over-estimate the benefits of extreme workouts and underestimate the benefits of regular and consistent physical activity.  For a very long time, I did just that.  I believed that training for a marathon or triathlon would more than compensate for my daily junk food habit. On the flip-side, I felt that walking did almost nothing in-terms of fitness.

I call this approach to fitness the Rocky Balboa syndrome.

All Rocky movies, have a familiar and recurring story-line. In the first half of each movie, Rocky (played by Sylvester Stallone) is portrayed as a complete has-been washed-up fighter who spends more time attacking Doritos bags than punching bags. Then suddenly the light bulb goes off, and he becomes a man possessed; spending hours in the gym, carving out a perfectly sculptured body (that always manages to have the perfect tan) in preparation for the championship fight.

The popularity of extreme fitness programs like P90X and Insanity reinforces this ideal – buy their DVD and you too can go from the sofa to the perfect body in just 90 days.

While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with what is in effect extreme circuit training; the mass marketing of these programs often give the impression that exercise is an all or nothing proposition. Let’s face it; have you ever paid to watch an instructor take a brisk walk through their local park? Or pay to see them take the kids for a picnic instead of the all-you-can eat buffet at Golden Corral? No.

The numbers don’t lie. As a nation we are not getting enough exercise.

So, if you haven’t done so already, lets start slowly together and gradually build-up. If you are ready for P90X then knock yourself out. For the rest of us, lets commit to being consistently active.

So why 10,000 steps or 30 minutes of moderate physical activity?

To me, it is not about some scientific studies or the Surgeon General’s recommendation (experts’ heads exploding); 10,000 steps represents something way more important – a lifestyle shift from the sedentary to the active.

Like most people, I used to compartmentalize exercise into a totally separate part of my day. Either I went to the gym or for a run or I did not. When I didn’t have time to go to the gym, I did nothing.  There was no in-between. This meant that often times my busy days extended to busy weeks which were followed by busy months which contributed to my 60 lbs of weight gain.

Also, I never tried to incorporate more activity into my daily routine. Today, however, I am aware that even the smallest amount of activity chips away at my daily goal of 10,000 steps.

Just last week, I racked-up over 3,000 steps while flying home from vacation (and not by walking in the plane’s aisle).  How then? Like always, I arrived early for my flight.  However, this time I purposely walked around the the airport for an hour before boarding.  Then I walked for another hour during the layover for my second flight.  Before, I would have mindlessly grabbed a Starbucks latte and McDonald’s Big Breakfast . The only walking I would have done; would have been during my search for the chair closest to the electrical outlets.

The same goes for lunch as well.  When I don’t have time to go to the gym, I still spend my lunch hour first walking 30-minutes and then eating.

Studies suggest that the average American walks between 5,000 and 7,500 thousand steps per day.  Hence, reaching 10,000 steps; for most people, will require some level of extra effort throughout the day or an additional 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise.

Some people have asked me, “What if my job already requires that I walk more than 10,000 steps.”  Again, this is one of probably a million diet and fitness related question that you already know the answer to. Walk more. Consider increasing your goal to 13,000 or 15,000 steps.

Becoming physically active will pay huge dividends.  Counting steps is an easily quantifiable way to measure your progress.  It does however require that you get a pedometer.  I will rarely urge you to buy any fitness gadgets.  However, in this case, I have seen the benefit that a simple pedometer has on transforming people’s lives. There are free mobile phone pedometer apps that also work very well.

There are NO excuses.  Assuming you have no physical or medical issues (check with your doctor); there is practically zero barriers to walking.  Just do it. And if 10,000 steps are too much; start with a number that you feel comfortable with and build up.  If you already exercise regularly, try to reach 10,000 in addition to your exercise steps.  For instance, going to the gym in the morning, doesn’t prevent you from talking a walk during lunch.

In the coming months, I will share some exercise tips and popular workouts. In the meantime, let’s get more active together – starting today.

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Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and cannot even spell nutritionist or dietitian, which in my opinion makes me overly qualified to share common sense healthy eating tips. However this blog is for entertainment and informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor for specific medical advice.

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