Let’s talk about physical activity. The science is very straight forward. The more we sit, the greater our risk for health complications. Trust me, I know this is a struggle in our modern world. I talk with clients all day about realistic sustainable ways to get more exercise into their life. I walk the trenches of struggle with you as I sit for most of my workday seeing patients. Just like with our food, we must have a game plan. There is an old saying that goes, ‘Have a plan, or Plan to Fail.’ While I don’t love the harshness of the word ‘fail’ here, I can appreciate the sentiment that a game plan is imperative for our success in behavior change and follow through.
We often set goals, but the follow through can fall short. This is often attributed to not having a game plan. Consider every work environment, sport, and family unit that uses systems in place to help things run smoothly. In life, we need systems in place to help prevent breakdown. Our health, requires the system of exercise.
Why is physical activity so important? There are too many reasons for me to list here in this simple blog post, but the short response is that being physically active helps us sleep better, feel better, and function better. Under the umbrella of ‘feel better and function better,’ you can also note that it helps reduce depression, anxiety, anger, and inattentiveness. Moving your body regularly has been studied and found to reduce symptoms of both acute and chronic anxiety. When people are looking to lose weight, my patients seem surprised that I often ask questions about their life that have nothing to do with food. Think about it! Who wants to eat a salad when they are depressed or anxious? Because few do…. we must rewind and consider what coping skills are we using to get through life. By starting from this angle, it will ultimately help with making better food choices.
There is also strong evidence that regular physical activity improves sleep overall. Again – consider the question – who wants to eat a salad when they are utterly fatigued from sleep deprivation? Certainly not I! So instead of coming from the point of view of eat better for weight loss, instead, first ask yourself – are you sleeping? If not, why, and what step can be taken to improve sleep. When we are better rested, the better food choices may follow. Therefore remember that regular physical activity promotes better sleep, thus promotes better food choices.
It is also no surprise that physical activity reduces the risk of many diseases and conditions. I could go on and on here. While I realize many people seek out a nutritionist primarily to lose weight, I am more interested in helping your insides function better. When we eat well, exercise, sleep better and participate in joyful activities, our insides gravitate toward healing. Beautiful organs and cells on the inside will ultimately want to show off on the outside.
When you work with a nutritionist, we will not only help you come up with a game plan for a better diet, but we will help you create a game plan that includes goals for physical activity. The public health target range is 150-300 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week. Most individuals are way below this public health target range. Rest assured that any length of movement is associated with health benefits and therefore even small, slow, steady increases are still valuable. I love fitness and I am excited to also give guidance for you to set realistic, attainable, and sustainable goals.