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Home » Health, News

Feds fitness guidelines are actually do-able

Submitted by on Tuesday, 7 October 2008 One Comment
OK, I hear you. And I'm getting off my butt.

I've been doing better anyway. Just this morning, I was able to meet Little Guy's demands to "go way fast" on the way back from dropping Big Guy off at school without groping for an oxygen mask.

According the first-ever exercise guidelines the U.S. Health Department released this morning, that puts me right on track. Without even going to a track, which is bonus points.

The guidelines say adults who do at least 150 minutes of "moderate activity" a week will see "substantial health benefits." Those benefits include lower risk of premature death, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and depression, according to the report.

Let's see, two walks five days a week to and from school at 20 minutes per round trip equals 200 minutes. Wow! I've found a fitness goal I can meet.

The report goes on to say that 300 minutes of moderate activity -- or 75 minutes of vigorous activity -- brings further benefits.

I'm going to quit reading before I get depressed again. Because I'm not an exercise person and I see myself falling short of that goal.

I've never been athletic -- I was your typical "time sprints with a calendar, "last person picked in PE" sort of kid.

I started running as a teen mainly to get out of the house. I continued into adulthood, but I hated ever single stride.

I tried formal programs -- remember when aerobics classes were the rage in the 80s? -- but those always triggered "klutzy kid in gym class" flashbacks. I started to resent the cute little girls in their cute leotards who never broke a sweat, and I'd drown my sorrows in after-class donuts. Talk about counter-productive.

These new guidelines, though, I can downright do. Take a gander at the moderate-activity list:
  • Walking briskly (3 miles per hour or faster, but not race-walking)
  • Water aerobics
  • Bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour
  • Tennis (doubles)
  • Ballroom dancing
  • General gardening
I think I'll skip gardening. Attempting it would be so unfair to the poor plants.

The demands are higher for kids: An hour a day for ages 6 to 18. The good news here, though: Activity in short bursts counts. Guess I'll have to ixnay the nagging as the guys run screaming around the house, since it appears there's an impact beyond getting on my last nerve.

In keeping with the usual speed at which government operates, it took two years to formulate the guidelines. First came the announcement of an advisory committee. A year later, the committee actually had members and was ready to start meeting.

It pretty much parallels my own fitness efforts over the past two years.

In 2006, I thought about getting more active, but baby Little Guy kept me hopping and not in an aerobic way.

In 2007, I considered exercise again, but those plans fell apart the second fall set in and shorter days cut into time in the evening.

In 2008, I'm actually doing it, but I'm not working -- at least not in a paying job -- right now, so it almost doesn't count.

I'm concerned about maintaining it when I go back to work. The morning rush to drop off the guys at two different places and then get myself to my desk on time will make walking Big Guy to school impossible. I suppose I could walk during lunch, but I'm usually an "eat at the desk" type in order to leave in time to pick up the guys at a reasonable hour.

That all will work itself out, though, when the time comes. For now, I'm happy to see a fitness program that doesn't make me feel like a loser.

Though I'm sure later today someone will criticize the guidelines as dumbing down exercise.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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