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HEALTHY LIVING COLUMN: Every Minute Of Exercise Counts

January 20, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

Even small increments of moderate aerobic exercise -- the kind that makes your heart and lungs work a little harder than usual -- contributes to your overall fitness goals.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity each week, as well as participate in two weekly muscle-strengthening sessions. Doing so can help combat heart disease, high blood pressure and other health risks exacerbated by a sedentary lifestyle.

If your schedule is already busy, finding the time to exercise may seem overwhelming, but any form of movement you can work into your day counts toward your total weekly goal.

Moments Of Movement

Previously, the Physical Activity Guidelines recommended at least 10 consecutive minutes of aerobic exercise to count, but now they acknowledge every minute spent moving has a positive impact.

Here are some simple ways to add incremental fitness into your day. To meet the 30 minutes five days a week, try to do one or two on the list a few times a day:

• Take a 10-minute walk at lunch or during a break.

• Do squats, lunges, or calf raises while watching TV.

• Try wall sits or sitting on an exercise ball while talking on the phone.

• Dance to three to four of your favorite songs in a row.

• Take the stairs when the option exists.

• Park a little farther away from the door each day to increase your step count.

Why Women Should Life Weights

Weightlifting has several benefits, especially for women. Strength-training exercises focus on building muscle mass, but they also help with bone-building capacity.

When combined with weight-bearing exercises -- those that carry the body's weight against gravity, such as walking or jogging -- lifting weights helps strengthen bones. As women tend to lose bone density after menopause, strength-building exercises are increasingly important to maintain bone health as they grow older.

Have you avoided lifting weights because you are concerned about bulking up? According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), women are less likely to build big, masculine muscles through weightlifting because women have less testosterone, a hormone, which helps men bulk up. To see those kinds of results, women would have to lift a significant amount of weight at least five or six days a week, as well as consume a specific musclebuilding diet.

If you think the weight room is not for you, exercises that use your body weight, such as Pilates and yoga, can also offer similar benefits, as well as providing improved balance and flexibility.

Be sure to talk with your primary care provider before starting an exercise program or if you are concerned about your health.

By Siloam Springs Regional Hospital

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