Exercise, Don't Go it Alone

Research shows that social support from family and friends can help you keep your fitness routine on track.
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We’ve all been there—those days when your get-up-and-go went elsewhere, leaving you with a long list of possible excuses not to exercise, from “I have more important things to get done today” to “It’s raining” or “Skipping one day won’t hurt.”

But getting off track on your fitness routine can impact your health. Regular exercise reduces your risk for a host of diseases, including diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer.

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two hours and 30 minutes of aerobic activity that’s of at least moderate intensity (for example, brisk walking) per week. That’s about the amount of time you might spend watching just one movie.

Another way to break it down is 30 minutes of activity five days a week. But you can exercise in increments as small as 10 minutes each, if that works better for you, and still reap health benefits. Recommended in addition to aerobic exercise: two or more days a week of muscle-strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups.

TEAM UP FOR SUCCESS

Fortunately, research shows there’s a reliable way to help ensure that you exercise consistently: Get yourself some social and emotional support. When you exercise with a family member or close friend, you’re more likely to stick to your fitness commitment.

“Having a training partner is always a good idea,” says Michael Ardizzone, certified personal trainer at Retro Fitness, Paramus. “In addition to safety concerns, there’s a significant emotional factor. Training partners push each other and keep each other honest.” If you can’t exercise together, he says, “sharing your exercise and diet plans with a support person or group can boost your motivational level and make the challenge of getting fit easier to conquer.” Even having someone to consult with when you don’t feel like heading to the gym or out for a walk is beneficial.

Once you have started exercising consistently, practical support also can help. For example, teaming up with someone who is willing to give you a ride to the gym when you need it, or who remembers your fitness-accessory wish list when your birthday rolls around.

POTENTIAL PITFALLS 

Studies have found that it’s equally important to avoid negative support—those friends or family members who repeatedly remind you that you may injure yourself, for instance.

Another important caveat: Don’t let a spouse or anyone else take away your autonomy by telling you when to exercise or what you should be doing. Studies show that when people feel pressured to be physically active, they avoid it. Instead, set a plan that will work for you and ask others to support your chosen approach.

Physical Activity & Health

Regular, moderate exercise is one of the best things you can do to protect your health. The many benefits of consistent physical activity include reduced risk of:

  •  Obesity
  •  Cardiovascular disease
  •  Type 2 diabetes
  •  Cancer (some types)
  •  Osteoporosis
  •  Depression
  •  Falls as you age

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Categories: Bergen Health & Life