Whether you love it or hate it, you probably see the word “exercise” at least once a week in the news or on social media. It feels like we’re constantly bombarded with photos of young, impossibly buff people lifting giant weights at the gym, and articles about how we’re all going to die in the next ten years unless we suck it up and hit the treadmill.
Let’s take a step back and reexamine some of the common narratives that surround exercise in the news media. Because, despite what some social media influencers may tell you, you don’t have to spend hours in the gym every day to be fit.
Myth #1: If you want to be healthy and active, you have to start going to the gym … No matter how much you hate it there.
There are literally hundreds of different ways to meet your exercise goals, and the vast majority of them don’t even require a gym. The best way to start an exercise program that will be sustainable and successful is to ask yourself, what kind of exercise do I like to do? Maybe it’s playing light tennis with your spouse on the weekends, or pushing your grandchild around the park in a stroller. If you’d rather knock it out by walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes or completing an at-home workout video, more power to you. The main idea is to choose something that you would enjoy doing even if you didn’t have to do it for the sake of your health. A lot of people find enjoyment in aerobic dance classes such as Zumba and Jazzercise. These classes are fun and uplifting, and you can almost always participate at your own pace, based on your individual physical capacity.
Myth #2: I want to make a commitment to my fitness, so I have to devote at least an hour each day to hard exercise.
Both the American Heart Association and the Department of Health and Human Services recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week; that’s just over 20 minutes per day, or 30 minutes, 5 days per week. An alternative is 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or some combination of the two. No matter which way you add it up, it translates to a relatively small time commitment. Most people have 20 minutes to spare in a given day, or at the very least, could probably wake up 20 minutes earlier. If you’re particularly pressed for time, at-home workouts are a great way to eliminate the added hassle of travel times.
Myth #3: I can’t exercise because I have a wheelchair/walker/area of physical weakness.
People of any and all physical abilities can take measures to improve their aerobic health, even if it means a simple form of exercise that only strains a select few areas of the body. For example, many people requiring wheelchairs enjoy the physical strength that comes over time with wheelchair yoga and wheelchair-specific workouts. Hundreds of people have even made a career out of this by becoming professional bodybuilders!
It’s all about finding the perfect workout for your body. Bad knees? Try the elliptical, an effective, but extremely low-impact way of doing cardio. Swimming is also low-impact, but still challenging, with the potential to significantly improve your cardiovascular health. A quick internet search will yield plenty of inspiration from people with similar physical capabilities who have created workouts and workout plans tailored for people like you.
Myth #4: All exercise is boring. And terrible.
Just to drive home how wrong this common misconception is, let’s look at some of the most interesting ways that people have chosen to reach their 150 minutes per week.
Having shared both funky and practical ways to incorporate exercise into your life, we hope you’ll give one of them a try. If you do, drop us a line on social media! You can find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @HealthKeeperz.