Part two of a three-part series on how to achieve your weekly aerobic activity for proper fitness and health.
Be the Tortoise
Once you know your personal fitness drive it would be a mistake to assign yourself a herculean task immediately out of the gate. Set a goal to achieve 150 minutes of aerobic activity every week.
Don’t force yourself to do your 150 minutes in a few hours before breakfast. If you’re used to binge-watching the newest streaming service series every day is a sure way to make you quit before you even start. Instead, build yourself up slowly and steadily to that 150 minutes per week.
Think of the tortoise from that well-known allegory and take it slow— one small achievable goal at a time. This is a good idea to lessen the chance of injury. You’ll be much more successful if you lean into the new routine rather than leaping headfirst into changing your whole life in a week.
The point is to instill new, healthy habits of regular activity into your weekly routine for positive effects long-term. Don’t create a potentially discouraging (and damaging!) situation for yourself by expecting radical results in the short term.
4300 Minutes per Week Decision
Wherever you’re at in life, right now is the ideal moment to commit to your drive and start holding yourself accountable for what you do with your time. It’s all about making the activity part of your weekly routine and cementing it into your schedule.
There are 168 hours in the week. If you put in 40 hours for a job and allow 50 to 60 hours for sleep that leaves 68 to 78 hours left—or approximately 4300 minutes.
How you spend these 4300 minutes is your choice. Of course, some of that time must be reserved for commuting, meals, hygiene, rest, media, (reading, news, podcasts, etc.) spending time with friends and loved ones, and family commitments. But within those 4300 minutes, how will you find 150 minutes for aerobic activity? Remember, the World Health Organization recommends getting in activities to increase strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular for general health improvements.
150 minutes equates to 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Or 50 minutes a day, just 3 days a week. Or even 15 minutes, twice a day, for five days.
However you break it up, finding 150 minutes hopefully doesn’t seem as daunting as it maybe did at the beginning of this piece. Perhaps now you can see how getting the activity you need into your life is not as tough as you thought.
The important thing initially, is spacing out your activity through the week in smaller chunks you can accomplish easily. Maybe that 30 minutes a day five days a week is in the form of a half-hour power walk every day after work. Or approximately 20 minutes of vigorous walking 7 days a week. 150 minutes can be 30-minute chunks of playing basketball or uphill climbing five days a week.
Try this schedule assessment:
- Record your weekly routine in written form. What activities do you engage in during what time of day? For example, MONDAY: Work 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Commute 4 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. Make dinner 4:15 – 5 p.m., etc.
- Write down 4 of your personal health or fitness goals. Each goal should be a S.M.A.R.T. goal. That is: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. The more specific and measurable these goals are, the better. (i.e. “Jog 1 mile 3 times a week” is a better-stated goal than “Do more jogging.”) Make the goals realistic and attainable—something you can practically accomplish—in a specifically stated amount of time.
- Looking at your recorded schedule, what times on what days can you use to start working toward your S.M.A.R.T. goals?
By dissecting your weekly routine—what activities you do at what time for how long—and writing it down—it will be easier to see what time you have available for exercise. Make a schedule and stick to it!
Set Short-and Long-term Goals
It is recommended to have short term and long term goals. What can you accomplish in the next year? The next month? What can you accomplish in the next ten minutes? The next minute? Can you attempt a one-minute plank right now?
If you truly find it difficult to squeeze the 150 minutes into your weekly routine, that’s okay too! There are ways to incorporate aerobic activity into your already-packed schedule. If you currently drive to work, is it possible to walk or take your bike? If it’s too far to walk, can you park your car a mile or two away and then walk the rest of the way? And, if you usually take the elevator, start using the stairs.
Find creative ways to fit exercise into your everyday routine. Anything that gets your heart rate elevated for at least 10 minutes can be counted as exercise. So how about making cleaning your house or apartment an aerobic pursuit? Vacuum with verve and scrub that tub with engaged spirit! Move quickly from task to task and room to room. You’ll get your exercise and your house will be really clean!
With a little effort and planning, you can easily be on your way to your 150 minutes per week!
COMING IN PART 3: Mind Games and Crossing the Finish Line
MATTHEW KONKEL is a NASM certified personal trainer who likes to crush his weekly fitness essential with running and resistance training. He’d like to help you do the same!
Contact him at Invivo Wellness to schedule a fitness assessment or book personal training.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of INVIVO Wellness.