Exercise: There are many benefits from exercising:
• Improves mood and energy levels while helping to reduce stress and depression. It can also help to improve both sleep and your sex life, to say nothing of your immunity.
• Can help to maintain or lose weight;
• Can help to reduce and/or keep in check chronic diseases, such as heart disease, osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes.
At least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three days a week seems to reduce cognitive decline in older people. Studies also show that people who participate in regular aerobic exercise live longer than those who don’t.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults need muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (leg, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) and one of the following
• At least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150) minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity (i.e. brisk walking) every week; or
• 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e. jogging or running) every week and muscle; or
• An equivalent mix of moderate-and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity
The good news is that you don’t have to do this all at once. 10 minutes at a time is fine. This is often a lot easier for people to squeeze into their busy days, and ideal for those with chronic conditions, where even five minutes feels like enough.
Not only is it best to spread your activity out during the week, but you can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. As long as you're doing your activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time.
There are lots of things you can do in 10 minutes. Try some of these:
• Walk, ride your bike, or jog to places you are going to have to go to anyway, such as the post office, grocery store, around the block, to a friends etc.
• Park the car as far away as possible when you go to the store.
• Household chores count, so the next time you have to mow the grass, shovel snow, make beds or clean think of it as helping you towards the 30 minutes of exercise you need.
• Take stairs instead of an elevator
• Jump rope
• “Boot camp” it with some of the many 10 minute exercises available free on line
Fitness Magazine’s 10 Minute Workouts
Exercise TV: Lots of free workouts of all types of lengths. Includes free yoga and Pilates.
Yoga: Recommended as both exercise and meditation, yoga has the benefits of both. Two for the price of one. My kind of deal.
According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, proper yoga practice combines: Physical postures that participants flow into and then hold, before proceeding to the next posture; a focus on breathing techniques that make participants more aware of their bodies; and deep meditation and relaxation, allowing participants to focus on their spirituality.
Because of its roots in ancient Indian philosophy, yoga is classified as “alternative” in western medicine. However, a growing body of research is showing that yoga can help people with a wide array of health issues-women with breast cancer, men with back pain, and anyone with headaches, sleep issues, pain, anxiety, stress, depression, or high blood pressure.
There are many styles of yoga, and you may have to shop around to find what works for you. Check with your condition specific organization (e.g. Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, American Cancer Society), as some have designed yoga videos, tapes and even instructional booklets.
And yes, you can take quick yoga breaks throughout your day at the following links:
Kripalu Yoga Breaks: Also includes guided relaxation.
Office Break Yoga
Yoga Breaks 10 minutes through 60 minutes
5 Minute Office Yoga Break Podcast with Jennifer Maagendans
Qigong /Tai Chi: Similar to yoga, you will find Qigong is often recommended as exercise and meditation. Sometimes referred to as “moving meditation,” there is a growing body of research that indicates that regular practice of Qigong /Tai Chi have many of the health benefits of Yoga. While there is a lot that can be learned on-line, it is best to start with an instructor. Again, check with the condition specific organization for any information they might have on this topic.
Meditation: Helping to calm and relax us, there are significant health benefits to daily meditation. There are many different approaches, from moving meditations, such as Qigong and yoga, to quietly sitting in place, it can be practiced throughout the day. While links are provided below for practicing meditation on-line, many hospitals, clinics and condition specific organizations now offer mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR). Developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-zinn, this has been well studied and documented for its benefits to help deal with pain and illness. Ask where you receive care about what programs may be available in your area.
Mindful Meditations from the UCLA Semel Institute
Meditations from Beliefnet
Take a Break to Meditate
Fitness from the Mayo Clinic
National Center on Physical Activity and Disability
Physical Activity for Everyone
Meditation: Take a Stress reduction break wherever you are