Exercise is so important to health, yet most Americans lead sedentary lives and only 20% of adults and adolescents meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
Here are some ways you can promote physical activity to your clients, students, or employees:
- All ages benefit. From preschoolers to octagenarians, movement makes a difference. Tailor your message to the age group you’re working with.
- The Move Your Way campaign has free materials like short videos, social media messages, graphics, and GIFs (many in Spanish) that target different populations, including adults, older adults, parents and kids, and pregnant/postpartum women.
- Any movement counts. Simply sitting less is a step in the right direction and has benefits. The same goes for the movement you do while cleaning the house or playing with the kids.
- Be Active Everyday Your Own Way is a simple handout with guidance for kids and adults. It also shows that everyday activities like walking the dog and washing dishes counts as movement.
- Home Exercise poster is a light-hearted reminder that you don’t need to join a gym or run a marathon. You can get movement throughout your day and in the comfort of your own home.
- Take advantage of transitions. Going back to the office after working from home due to the pandemic is a great time to start a new exercise habit. The same goes for other life transitions like having a baby or starting a new school year.
- Find a health motivator. Exercise has so many immediate and long-term benefits that everyone is bound to relate to at least one of them.
- Not sleeping well? Diagnosed with high blood pressure? Dealing with anxiety? Physical activity has immediate effects on these issues.
- Worried about your risk of developing cancer, diabetes, depression, or dementia? Physical activity has long-term effects on these conditions (and many more!).
- 3 Prong Exercise Plan to Stop Prediabetes is an example of targeting a health condition many folks might be worrying about.
- Manage a health condition. Exercise can help…
- Decrease pain for those with osteoarthritis.
- Reduce disease progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes.
- Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Improve cognition for those with dementia, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, and Parkinson’s disease.
Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD
COVID-19 has changed many people’s exercise habits. Some of us are getting outside more with the kids, taking walks, hiking, and cycling. Others miss the gym and group exercise classes, finding it hard to get motivated to move on our own.
Even if you’re exercising regularly, it’s also important to sit less and move more throughout the day. Working from home probably impacts this type of movement. Maybe you’re not walking from the bus stop to the office building anymore. Maybe you’re not leaving your desk for meetings. And taking a break could mean just walking a few steps to the kitchen or bathroom.
Our Workday Workout Poster provides tips to help people sit less and move more during the workday. Here’s how to tweak the message for those working from home due to COVID-19:
- Turn your commute to a workout: If you no longer have a commute, take a walk or ride your bike around the block before you start your workday.
- Hit the gym at lunchtime: If going to the gym isn’t an option, plan on doing a workout video when you break for lunch. Or schedule three 10-minute exercise videos throughout your day. YouTube has plenty of choices for all levels and time constraints.
- Walk while you talk: You can still do this! Walk around the house while you talk on the phone. Take a walk outside if you’re on a longer phone call or virtual meeting when it’s appropriate.
- Work standing up: Ask your boss about getting a standing desk for home. If that’s not an option, try putting your laptop on the kitchen counter or an ironing board. Make it a habit to stand up during conference calls or virtual meetings.
- Meet, don’t just text: When you’re in the office, you can walk over to a co-worker’s desk instead of texting or sending an email. When you’re working from home, you’ll have to be more creative, unless your co-worker is your neighbor! One option is to think about who you could walk to see if you were in the office. When you’re ready to send them a message, get up and walk around the house or up and down a flight of stairs just before (or right after) you hit send.
Some of these tips might seem small, but getting into the habit of doing lots of smaller things will ensure that you’re moving more throughout the day no matter where you’re working.
The human body is not made for sitting, yet many of us sit for eight or more hours a day at work. Even if you exercise regularly, sitting for long periods of time is not good for your health. The US Physical Activity Guidelines recommend regular physical activity.
To encourage people to get up and move more during the workday, we created the Workday Workout poster. With graphics and text, it presents five ways to get a workout during the workday.
When it comes to workday workouts, everything counts! A workout can be anything from five minutes of stretching to an hour of step aerobics.
Here are nine teaching tips to go along with the Workday Workout poster:
- Set the example. Plan a walking lunch-and-learn or a walking counseling session. If that’s not possible, fit in some short movement breaks. People will notice how good they feel after they get up and move.
- Count steps. You can’t change what you don’t monitor. Track your steps during the workday using a pedometer, fitness tracker (like FitBit), or your smartphone. Work on increasing this number by using some of the strategies on our poster.
- Log it. Keep a log of when you choose to move at work. This can be as simple as putting a checkmark on paper every time you stand up to talk on the phone, walk to a co-worker’s office instead of sending an email or take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Find a buddy. Get a co-worker to join you in moving more throughout the day. Meet to walk during lunch, send each other reminders and encouraging messages, share successes and talk through challenges.
- Identify obstacles. What one thing seems to be holding you back? A new headset so you can stand up and move around when talking on the phone? An extra pair of sneakers to keep under your desk?
- Set reminders. Use your watch, phone, computer, or an old-fashioned timer to remind you to get up and move once every hour.
- Share ideas. Ask your social media friends and followers to share how they get moving during the workday. Someone might see an idea that would work for them, too.
- Find a way. If you can’t walk to work, could you walk around the block before leaving for work? If you can’t go to a gym during lunchtime, could you do a YouTube video in an empty conference room or your office?
- Have fun. Close your office door, put on your favorite song, and move!
Physical activity is one of the keys to fighting prediabetes. Our Prediabetes Exercise poster outlines a three-prong approach based on recommendations from the American Diabetes Association.
It seems simple enough: exercise for 150 minutes per week, throw in some strength training, and don’t sit too much. But for many folks, just the thought of working out can be overwhelming. One solution is to do exercise videos at home.
There are plenty of free exercise videos on YouTube, but your clients need direction to find the right ones. Here are some good choices to go along with the three prongs on our Prediabetes Exercise poster:
150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week:
- You can’t go wrong with any walking video by Leslie Sansone. There are so many to choose from, all free on YouTube. Here are a few basics:
- The National Institute on Aging’s Go4Life exercise videos are geared to seniors, but they’re also perfect for beginners and people with foot, ankle, knee, or hip issues:
- This 30-minute Low Impact YMCA workout sticks to the basics but is challenging enough for beginners of all ages.
- SparkPeople’s Seated Cardio Workout is not your grandmother’s chair exercise!
Resistance/strength training 2-3 times per week:
Three minutes of light activity every half hour while sitting:
And here are two bonus recommendations: