Some recent statistics I read in the National Academy of Sports Medicine text book this week really bring to light the need for a more exercise oriented culture.
-Only 31% of adults engage in regular leisure time physical activity (3 sessions of 20 minutes of high intensity activity or 5 sessions of 30 minutes of low to moderate intensity activity).
-75% of the American adult population does not engage in at least 30 minutes of low-to-moderate physical activity on most days of the week.
-About 80% of Adult Americans suffer from lower back pain.
-70% of ACL injuries are non-contact related (stemming from a sedentary lifestyle).
-66% of Americans over 20 are overweight and of these, 34% are obese.
These numbers indicate a highly sedentary culture! We can change ourselves and these statistics very easily. You don’t have a to be a marathon runner, a sport superstar, or even have a gym membership to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Although 30 minutes of exercise may seem daunting to new comers, or those of us who have gotten out of the routine for a while, it is a goal that is simple to accomplish and worthwhile for all of the health benefits. Some of the health risks prevented by regular exercise include: Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, High Cholesterol, Osteoarthritis, pregnancy complications, some types of cancer, shortened life expectancy, and a decreased quality of life.
Some easy, low-impact activities to get you started on your 30 minutes of low-to-moderate physical activity most days can include:
-A 30 minute walk.
-A leisurely hike.
-A 30 minute bike ride
-An introductory yoga class or video.
Other activities to amp up your fitness without stepping foot in a gym include:
-Jogging (beginners can start by jogging for a minute then walking for a minute for 20 minutes).
-Going to a local field, or utilizing your street and doing sprints.
-Push-ups, crunches, bear crawls, jumping jacks, tricep dips on a park bench or chair.
Of course, equally as important as physical activity is nutrition. It is important that we eat a balance of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Don’t be put off by healthy fat sources such as avocado, oils, and nuts. These are an important source of energy during your workouts because your body draws on fat and carbohydrate stores during exercise. Below is a healthy lunch I ate today that has less calories and kept me full longer than my usual lunch (typical lunch- turkey, pickle, spinach and avocado sandwich on Arnold’s Oatnut bread with a side of baby carrots):
1/2 Avocado chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 Yellow pepper diced
1/3 can black beans rinsed
1/2C cherry tomatoes cut into fours
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
This has a much higher fat content than my usual lunch, but it’s all healthy fats which my body utilizes during my workouts. Usually, after about 2 hours I am hungry for my snack, but with today’s lunch I was full for four hours while consuming less calories. I also received a lot more vitamins from this lunch, as it’s all vegetables. The bread in my usual lunch, while healthy, does not add a whole lot of nutrition compared with a bowl full of vegetables.