Sometimes it's hard to get motivated to move. "It's my day off," you tell yourself, "besides, how much good could 30 or even 60 minutes of exercise really do?"
Quite a lot actually. Even modest amounts of regular exercise can result in long-term health benefits including reduced risk of depression, heart disease and cognitive decline, according to the panel of experts that created the nation's first Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (in 2008).
Encouraging people to practice one of the program's 11 "active lifestyle strategies" each day for just seven days to squeeze a bit more exercise into their routine, such as taking the stairs instead of the escalator, is the idea behind the Move More, Sit Less Challenge sponsored by the Stanford Prevention Research Center’s WELL for Life.
This weeklong, online challenge was created with guidance from Abby King, PhD, professor of health research & policy and medicine at Stanford, and a co-chair of the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee.
As in the No Added Sugar and Better Sleep Challenges that preceded this program, achievable change is the goal. "The purpose of these studies is to explore how small changes in behavior of one area can impact well-being in a number of areas," said Matthew Grason, research and administrative coordinator for WELL for Life.
The active strategies include practical tips for being more mobile such as transforming your commute into exercise session by biking or walking to work; doing arm movements, running in place, or standing up when you're unable to leave your post; and replacing dinner dates with activities like going to the park or dancing.
And, even the most busy schedules can accommodate activity, King said. "It’s interesting that when people of different ages and from different regions of the world are asked what the greatest barriers to being active are, one of the most frequent answers is lack of time. Even more interesting, however, is the fact that regularly active people often report this as a barrier as much as inactive people. Thus, for most people it’s likely not a lack of time per se that is the culprit, but how an individual prioritizes his or her time.”
The challenge runs through the end of September.
Previously: Getting zzzzzs for science: Come take the Better Sleep Challenge, “Oh, my! It’s in everything!” Stanford group encourages people to ditch sugar for a week, “It’s an effort to change the world of medicine and health”: WELL for Life launches today and WELL unites project organizers at a wellness summit
Photo by Carlo Scherer