Everyday Wellness: Overcome the lure of the sofa

February 17, 2011

Knee-deep snow and frigid temperatures make us want to ditch our workout routines as we feel the appealing lure of the sofa.

We all know that regular exercise reduces risk for heart disease, helps with weight loss, improves cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and increases energy, but physical activity also can make you feel stronger and more alive. It's a fun way to spend time with family and friends.

So before reaching for the excuse file, remember that some exercise is better than none, more is better than some, and getting too much is not a worry for most of us.
There are plenty of ways to stay active during the cold months -- go ice skating or cross-country skiing with family or friends, or bundle up and take the dog for a walk. If you prefer to stay indoors, buy or rent an exercise DVD, walk at the mall, take a dance class, or join a fitness center or a community sports league. Even household chores count as exercise. These are all big steps in the right direction.

How Purdue can help …
* Memberships at on-campus facilities offer many fitness options, including fitness classes, personal trainers, state-of-the-art equipment, health and fitness assessments, and exercise counseling and management. A list is available at www.purdue.edu/cwlw/links/Welcome.html.
* Many local fitness centers participate in the Purdue Employee Discount Program. Visit www.purdue.edu/cwlw/links/Welcome.html.

* WorkLife Programs offers a variety of educational and support programs that can help with exercise ideas and ways to stay motivated. The WorkLife Programs website is at http://www.purdue.edu/hr/WorkLife/Welcome.html.

* A CIGNA Live Well Advocate can help you determine the best way to get started and stay on track with your fitness goals. Visit www.purdue.edu/cwlw/pht/bios.html.

If you're ready to begin an exercise regimen
* Talk to your health care provider first. If it's been a long time since you got any physical activity, be sure to talk with your doctor about the best way to begin your exercise program.

* Choose activities that are right for you. Pick an activity that's easy to fit into your life -- this will help you stick with it.

* Be comfortable. Make sure your clothing and shoes don't hinder your exercise.

* Find a buddy. Having someone to exercise with is more fun than going it alone. It also increases the chances that you'll exercise more and stick with it.

* Don't overdo it. If it's been a while, start with lighter-intensity activities and build from there.

The surgeon general recommends 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week. If you can't do 30 minutes at one time, you can still reap the benefits by breaking it up into 10-minute segments. Do a little more each time. Once you feel comfortable, do it more often.

It's up to you how often you exercise, but the key is making physical activity a regular, fun part of your life. Start slowly and build your endurance. And as soon as you start seeing results, you'll be even more motivated to keep doing it.

Exercise helps strengthen your heart and reduces your risk for heart disease. Do you know how many gallons of blood your heart will pump or how many times it will beat today? Get your personalized my heart today report at www.myfitnesspal.com/p/heart.
When you begin exercising, you'll hear all kinds of talk about intensity levels -- light, moderate and vigorous. What does it all mean? Below you'll find examples of activities and their intensity levels.
Light-intensity activities include:

* Walking slowly.
* Golf in a powered cart.
* Gardening or pruning.
* Dusting or vacuuming.

Moderate-intensity activities:

* Walking briskly.
* Golf, pulling or carrying clubs.
* Mowing the lawn with a power mower.
* Cycling on level terrain or with a few hills.

Vigorous-intensity activities:

* Race walking, jogging or running.
* Mowing the lawn with a hand mower.
* Moving or pushing furniture.
* Cycling more than 10 mph or on steep uphill terrain.

More information is available at the Everyday Wellness website at www.purdue.edu/cwlw/everydaywellness.

* www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/214137.php
* Welcoa's online General Wellness Bulletin: http://wellnessconnection.wustl.edu/hr/wellness.nsf/ByDominoFilename/Pdfs_Home Gym.pdf/$FILE/Home Gym.pdf
* www.health.gov/paguidelines/adultguide/activeguide.aspx
* Active Lifestyle Activity Log (President's Council on Fitness): www.presidentschallenge.org/tools-resources/docs/PALA_log.pdf
* www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/tc/quick-tips-staying-active-in-cold-weather-get-started
* www.wikihow.com/Start-Walking-for-Exercise
* www.webmd.com/diet/tc/healthy-weight-preparing-for-change