Physical Activity Tips
October 12, 2020
As an exercise scientist, I understand the importance of physical activity. Despite my expertise in physical activity and public health, I have had large increases in sedentary behavior and decreases in physical activity the last several months. Epidemiological research has shown that I’m not alone, with most people reporting increases in sedentary behavior and recreational screen time, and decreases in physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Public health recommendations: the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that (1) children and adolescents engage in at least 60-minutes of physical activity a day and (2) adults engage in at least 75-minutes of vigorous physical activity or 150-minutes of moderate physical activity a week.
Common beliefs: many people believe they must meet the guidelines above to receive the health benefits of physical activity or must engage in large bouts of continuous activity (such as a 30-minute run or 45-minute walk). Considerable research has demonstrated that this isn’t the case. One can receive health benefits from engaging in lower amounts of physical activity, and small bouts can accumulate to have important benefits.
There are many ways you and others can safely increase physical activity levels:
- Break up sitting time when working from home by taking short, 5-minute walking breaks throughout the day.
- Take a social distanced walk in your neighborhood. If walking on opposite sides of the road from others, consider using a handsfree cellular device so you don’t have to talk loudly.
- Try a virtual workout. The Purdue CoRec offers virtual programming and a number of organizations (such as the American Heart Association) offer free online programming.
- NFL PLAY 60 teamed up with the American Heart Association to provide families with online content and an interactive app to help youth remain active, regardless of their school format this academic year.
- Try a virtual training program to help youth of all ages develop their sports skills. Many apps provide free services, such as shot-by-shot video reviews and basic drills for shooting, ball-handling, and agility.
Remember, some activity (even in small doses) can have a positive impact on your health.
Jorge Banda is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health. His research focuses on decreasing sedentary behavior, increasing physical activity, and preventing and treating obesity in youth. His current research takes place in youth sports settings.
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