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150 Minutes

DO YOU MOVE ENOUGH?

Movement matters and we are here with an alarming statistic that requires attention from all of us. Even if it doesn’t apply to you, it may apply to someone you know and they deserve a helping hand.  Here it goes: 80% of Americans do not get the minimum requirement of weekly movement to maintain their health.  EIGHTY!  That means that only 20% of American adults are moving their bodies enough to maintain good health.  This is a tough statistic to comprehend for those of us in the health + movement industry, but it’s the norm. 

With four out of five Americans not moving enough, we want to provide some realistic guidelines in order for you to help yourself and others.  This is a staggering statistic worth diving into for the following reasons:

1).  Define movement and the intensity required to promote “good health”

2).  Management of chronic pain (low back pain, etc)

Intensity Matters

Now you know you need to move 150 minutes a week, but what does that mean? Let’s break it down.  The math works out to 30 minutes of medium to moderate activity 5 times per week.  Sure there are other ways to divide 150 minutes by 7 days in the week but we prefer 30 min 5x week as a bite-sized goal.  Medium to moderate intensity is defined as an activity that alters your breathing pattern and your heart rate, but during which you can still talk and maintain a conversation.  

Examples:

  • brisk walking (at least 2.5 miles per hour)
  • water aerobics
  • dancing (ballroom or social)
  • Yardwork (lighter like gardening or mowing)
  • tennis (doubles)
  • biking slower than 10 miles per hour
  • Strong Balance at Koa Fit 

Alternatively, 75 minutes of vigorous activity can be preferred.  Honestly, we, and the American Heart Association, prefer a combination of intensity and the inclusion of some strengthening (2x/wk)  as well.  Vigorous activities will get your heart rate up further, you will probably start to sweat and maintaining a conversation would likely be difficult. 

Examples: 

  • hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack
  • running
  • swimming laps
  • aerobic dancing
  • heavy yard work like continuous digging or hoeing
  • tennis (singles)
  • cycling 10 miles per hour or faster
  • jumping rope

But I’m not active

Fear not! This is not an “all or nothing” prescription. If you’re not a mover or know someone who seldom moves, just start with walking.  5 minutes, 3 days in a row.  Or maybe it’s 5 min 2x day, 3 days/wk.  Then 10, then 20.  Write out a realistic plan and cross off each activity as it comes, rather than starting with the number 150 at the top of your list and count down. 

Movement Options + Chronic Pain

The 150 minutes/week recommended by the American Heart Association is validated when it comes to persistent aches and pains. As we stated above, if you’re not someone who moves or is fearful of increasing pain, start with a short walk, increase your frequency and then your duration over time. Alter your intensity from medium to moderate to vigorous. 

The moderate exercise we mentioned above helps with your heart health and your mental health as an elevated heart rate will release endorphins which are basically “happy vibes” in your body.  This will help with pain management and the depression which is often associated with persistent pain. 

Strengthening will help prepare your body for your everyday activities without fear of injury or an increase in your pain. You will slowly learn to activate the proper muscles against gravity and condition your body to accept a load without injury. 

Stretching helps your mobility, joint movement, and pain. 

Ok, but does it really help?

YES! There is a ton of research out there about the right amount and type (intensity and form) for movement will help lessen your pain. Our bodies truly can help heal ourselves. Here are a few ways that it works:

  • During exercise, your brain releases natural pain relievers (analgesics) in your spinal cord and brain to turn off pain signals. These analgesics have no risks or side effects.  We want them floating around your body. 
  • During exercise, your muscles release chemicals that block pain signals from being sent to your brain.  
  •  During exercise, your immune cells release natural chemicals that block pain signals and heal injured tissue.

Furthermore, when it comes to persistent pain, research also shows that exercise can improve:  

  • Fatigue   
  • Energy  
  • Mental health   - Depression, Anxiety
  • Sleep 
  • Bodyweight 
  • Blood pressure  
  • Blood glucose levels  
  • Quality of life - it can help you do activities you enjoy like spending time with family and friends, working in the garden or yard, or sports/hobbies.

So now you are fueled with information that is relevant and validated!  You can help yourself heal, you can promote your own health or the health of someone around you.  You have a body that can help heal itself, that’s amazing.  

Fitness mogul Nike has the following mission statement: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.”  It seems fitting to feed off that, if you have a body, you can heal your aches and improve your health + well-being.  Use that machine for good

References: 

American Heart Association

Therapeutic Neuroscience of Pain

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