Author: Alexander Buelow

3 Ways to Add Physical Activity Into Your Everyday Life

80% of American adults are not getting the recommended amount of exercise (The State of Obesity, 2018). According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week (ACSM 2014, p.147) There are many ways of achieving this without spending money on a gym membership.

There are many different benefits of staying physically active throughout your life. For example: it improves cognitive functioning, increases energy, decreases stress, and improves cardiovascular health. A lot of Americans today spend over half of their day sitting down. Being sedentary can actually increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and premature death. If sitting down really causes all of these problems, then why is it so prominent in our daily lives?

Most people believe that being physically active means you have to go to the gym and do an extremely hard workout while sweating profusely. This is actually not true at all. Being physically active means that you have found time in your busy schedule to do an activity that isn’t sitting down or lying down. You don’t even have to sweat. To add physical activity into your life, start by laying out your schedule, and finding small increments of time to add different activities. Here are three simple ways to add physical activity into your everyday life:

1. Coffee Walks

Going on a coffee walk is a great way to get in your exercise while doing something you already had planned. If you are meeting a friend for coffee, you can ask them to get their coffee to go and take it with you on a walk. This is an easy way to stay active while still getting tasks done. Sitting down at a coffee shop is something that most college aged students do weekly.

 

2. Walk While You Study

Studying is something that is inevitable as a college student. According to Louis Bherer, Kirk I. Erickson, and Teresa Liu-Ambrose, by doing any form of physical activity it can increase your cognitive functioning and help you focus more on different tasks (Effects of Physical Activity and Exercise, 2013). It is easy to go to the library or sit at home and study, but what if you took your study materials on a walk with you. It is easy to look over flash cards while you take a walk, or have a friend come with you and quiz you. This will not only add physical activity into your life, but it can also help improve your cognitive functioning, which can help you with whatever it is you are studying for.

3. Park farther away

This is one of the easiest ways to add physical activity into your day. For UCO students it is already incorporated in our day, because parking isn’t exactly ideal. However, if you are going other places like the grocery store or to get food, try parking at the farthest spot you can find. This only adds a few extra minutes onto your trip, but can end up benefitting you a lot more. The task does not have to be long or strenuous. Adding little things like this to your day may not seem like much, but over time it will improve your overall quality of life.

References:

ACSM. (2014). Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription.

Louis Bherer, Kirk I. Erickson, and Teresa Liu-Ambrose, “A Review of the Effects of Physical Activity and Exercise on Cognitive and Brain Functions,” Journal of Aging Research, vol. 2013, Article ID 657508, 8 pages, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/657508

The State of Obesity. (2018). Physical Inactivity in the United States. Retrieved from The State of Obesity: https://stateofobesity.org/physical-inactivity

Benefits of working out with a group.

According to Blackstone et al. (2017) exercise in a group setting can increase enjoyment of physical activity and be a great motivator. Working towards a common goal can help us with reaching our individual goals and hold us accountable. We tend to work harder in a group setting and feel better afterwards. There are several ways to finding a group that you might enjoy staying active with.

Find friends with common goals.

Chances are very high that people enjoy the same activities you do. That does not always mean having to go to the gym together. If you have a friend who enjoys hiking or walking and if that is something you are interested in, make a commitment to each other to take regular trips.

Sign up for a group exercise class.

Group exercise classes are not only a great way to find guidance but they are also a great way to socialize. The combination of being motivated by others and making new friends is great. Working out by yourself can be beneficial for reaching your personal goals but research also shows that group exercise can significantly decrease stress levels and the production of cortisol (Yorks et. al, 2017). The UCO Wellness Center offers a variety of classes you can join anytime.

Find a workout partner.

If you enjoy going to the gym, do not shy away from finding someone who shares your interest. Finding a workout partner can hold you accountable to making your workouts a routine and can increase the overall enjoyment.

References

Blackstone, Sarah R.; Reeves, Dayana; Lizzo, Robin; Graber, Kim C., (2017).  A Qualitative Inquiry of Motivations to Participate in Group Exercise Among Women  American Journal of Health Studies, Vol. 32 Issue 2, p78

Dayna M. Yorks, Christopher A. Frothingham, Mark D. Schuenke. Effects of Group Fitness Classes on Stress and Quality of Life of Medical Students. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 2017; 117 (11): e17 DOI: 10.7556/jaoa.2017.140