Did you know that fewer than 50% of American adults do enough exercise to gain any health or fitness benefits? Hippocrates once said, "Walking is man's best medicine." The Surgeon General recommends 30 minutes or more of accumulated moderate intensity physical activity five or more days per week to improve health and fitness. Walking is an easy form of exercise that reduces the incidence of chronic disease:
If you can fit in two 10-minute sessions during the day, it will benefit you almost as much as one 20-minute session. (Updated guidelines from the US Department of Health and Human Services ). The American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine state that moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking can be performed in 10 minute bouts for improved health! You just need to fit in a total of 2½ hours over the course of a week. Here are some creative suggestions from the American Heart Association on how to fit exercise into any schedule:
• You can easily accomplish 10–15 minute sessions by walking around the neighborhood after work, walking to a lunch spot that’s 10 minutes away or heading to the corner store for a few items. Instead of seeking the closest spot, save time, frustration and gas by parking farther from your destination and using the time and energy to walk. Or, if you take the bus, get off a stop earlier and take a brisk walk.
• To catch up with an old friend, schedule a walk together. It’s a great way to get some exercise and fresh air while you’re enjoying each other’s company. Chances are that you’ll be so focused on the conversation that you’ll walk farther than you planned.
• Do you or your friend have a pet? If so, volunteer to be the official dog walker and everyone will get more exercise — including the dog!
• During the work day, take the long way to the copier or rest room. Walk over to talk to someone instead of calling. Instead of a coffee break, take a 10-minute walk break! You’ll burn a few extra calories and prevent stiffness.
• Discuss business plans with colleagues while going for a short walk instead of sitting at a desk. Develop a new corporate culture of “walking meetings.”
• On weekends, take a walk to reconnect with your family members. If the kids want to go to the park or a friend’s house, walk to get there.
• Turn shopping into an aerobic activity. Shopping is walking, so don’t stop for 10 minutes straight and you’ve worked in one of your daily sessions! Check with your local mall for mall walker programs, and you’ll have company.