It can be hard to stick to an exercise routine. The demands of work and family can ruin your good intentions. Research shows that exercising with another person may help you succeed.
One study found that married couples who exercised together did it more consistently than married people who exercised alone. A family member or friend who shares an activity with you provides support and motivation.
Activities that go better with a buddy include partner yoga, dance classes, martial art classes, hiking, tennis, and many others.
Sometimes two people may not find the same activity enjoyable. For couples or buddies with different preferences, just committing to the same exercise time together may be beneficial. They might try the following:
- Go to the same gym together.
- Try activities that are new to both of them.
- Sign up for a competition or fun fitness event.
- Plan a group session with a personal trainer.
Having the support of a partner for both diet and exercise helps us stick to lifestyle changes.
Source: Today’s Dietitian
Crunched for time? Any workout is better than no workout! It is recommended adults get at least 150 minutes of cardio training (i.e., walking, biking, swimming) a week and at least two days of muscle-strengthening activities (i.e., weight training) to promote living a healthy lifestyle. Working out and getting the blood pumping has many health benefits—including reducing the risk of chronic diseases, improving sleep, enhancing mood, relieving stress—and it can be fun! At-home circuit workouts, biking, walking, gardening, jogging, and bodyweight exercises (strength-training exercises that use your own body weight to provide resistance against gravity) are some easy ways to incorporate extra movement into your busy day. To reach the goal of 150 minutes per week, spread out your workouts into 30 minutes a day and bring a family member or friend along too!
Visit Spend Smart. Eat Smart. (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/move-your-way-activity-planner) to find more ideas to increase your daily activity.
As adults, we need two and a half hours (150 minutes) of aerobic physical activity per week. Swimming is the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States. While you’re trying to cool off this summer, try to incorporate some water exercises.
When you hop in the water—whether a lake, river, or pool—try one of these “cool” exercises:
- Walk forward, backward, and sideways in the water. Start slowly for 1–2 minutes in each direction and work up to 3–5 minutes. A water belt may be helpful to maintain buoyancy.
- Water squats are a great strength exercise. Be sure your feet are on the bottom of the pool, lake, or river and you can wiggle your toes. Do two sets of 10 repetitions.
- Grab a water noodle and use it as an oar. Begin to row as if you were in a boat, using the noodle as your oar in the water. Do two sets of 10 repetitions.
Centers for Disease Control
You probably know that regular physical activity helps both parents and children stay well. It strengthens the heart, muscles, and bones. But did you know that physical activity could strengthen families, too? Families that take walks, play sports, or do physically active chores together often notice these benefits: better communication and bonding, less stress and conflict, and more family fun!
Getting family members of all ages involved in the same physical activity at one time can be a challenge. Here are tips that may help:
- Set regular, specific activity times. Determine times when the whole family is available.
- Plan and track progress. Write plans on a family calendar.
- Build new skills. Enroll yourself and the kids in exercise classes you will both enjoy.
- Treat physical activity as a gift. Give presents that encourage physical activity, such as bikes, balls, jump ropes, and badminton sets.
Both parents and children can treasure the times when the family is physically active together.
Sources: MyPlate.gov, WebMD
While watching your favorite teams compete in March Madness, take a time out during commercial breaks to stretch. Flexibility is an overlooked component of exercise that improves your range of motion, which increases your ability to engage in all different types of physical activity. You do not need to go to yoga to improve your flexibility. The most recent physical activity recommendations suggest stretching as an easy and effective means to increase flexibility.
Follow these simple stretching tips to minimize injury and maximize flexibility benefits:
- Relax by taking a few deep breaths during stretches.
- Make smooth/slow movements instead of jerky/quick motions.
- Stretch until feeling a gentle pull; if you feel any sharp pain or discomfort, you have stretched too far.
- Hold stretches for a total of 15–30 seconds.
To get started, try these simple stretches as you wait for the basketball games to resume:
- Forward Bend—When sitting/standing, reach your hands toward your toes. Hold for 15–30 seconds.
- Wall Push—Stand 12–18 inches away from a wall; lean forward, pushing against the wall with your hands and keeping heels flat on the floor. Hold for 15 seconds; repeat 1–2 times.
- Hip Flexor Stretch—With both knees on the floor, bring one leg forward placing your foot flat on the floor and your knee at a 90-degree angle. Push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your front thigh, near the groin. Keep your torso upright and front knee behind your toes. Hold for 20-30 seconds on each leg.
Sources: American Heart Association, Stretches for exercise and flexibility; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Active adults. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
The holiday season is a busy time of year, which may make it hard to get in the recommended 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week. Even when these recommendations are met, there is an increased risk for chronic disease when you are sitting for a prolonged period of time. There are plenty of ways to get moving, though. For instance, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk the hallways at work on breaks, stand while you’re on the phone, or stretch a couple minutes for every hour of prolonged sitting. At home, complete floor exercises during commercial breaks or march in place while you’re cooking in the kitchen. These are small steps to reduce sedentary time and increase activity.
You can even enjoy the winter weather while getting in some exercise. Activities like ice skating, snowball fights, sledding, and making snow angels count toward your daily physical activity minutes.