A sound bite is a tiny clip from a speech. These posts are designed to be quick ideas (“bites”) about how we busy people can practically integrate wellness into our daily lives. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you accomplish something overwhelming? Start with a manageable crumb.
What enhances your attention for at least two hours, improves your reaction time, and immediately boosts your mood? According to neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki, exercise is “the most transformative thing that you can do for your brain”, with the above benefits occurring after even a single workout. Regular exercise actually changes the physical structure of the brain, improving long-term memory, and bolstering against the effects of neurodegenerative diseases and normal cognitive decline.
Per recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, everyone should aim for at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity (and children younger than age 6 need even more physical activity!). Focus on exercise that strengthens your heart, your muscles, and your bones. Here are a few ways to add more movement into your day:
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Park in the farthest spot from the door.
Briskly walk laps around the parking lot.
Do jumping jacks during commercials.
Make it fun. If exercise isn’t fun, it isn’t sustainable. Find a workout buddy. Make exercise a game (identify timelines and incentives). Revisit activities you enjoyed as a child (e.g. riding a bike, rollerskating, trying to hula hoop, jumping rope, climbing on playground equipment, etc.).
Prepare. Wear appropriate clothing and footgear. Partner with medical professionals regarding past injuries or current health conditions. Notify a trusted friend or partner of your plans and your timeline, and check in as agreed.
Know when to stop. Take breaks when necessary to “refuel”: catch your breath, drink water, or eat a snack. Stop immediately if you feel faint or light-headed: sit down, and put your head between your legs; breathe deeply. Trust your gut, and avoid unsafe conditions; don’t hesitate to call for help.
Celebrate. Celebrate even small victories. You laid out your workout clothes the night before. You put on your running shoes. You made it to the end of the driveway and back. Accomplishing anything requires a series of actions, and each of these “wins” is a stepping stone toward your goal outcome. Celebrating wins creates momentum for future success.
How do you integrate exercise into your life? Send tips to “firstname.lastname@example.org”.