Historically, the approach towards physical activity in mainstream medicine has been disappointing. Many physicians and other healthcare professionals have acknowledged this disappointment and are now recommending and putting more emphasis on lifestyle factors such as exercise to prevent and manage the early signs of chronic disease such as body weight, blood pressure, and insulin levels. There have even been a number of articles and videos through various media outlets spotlighting physicians who are providing their patients with the unorthodox prescription of exercise. (One of which I posted a couple weeks ago: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/winnipeg-doctor-kevin-saunders-writing-prescriptions-for-exercise-1.3048315)
I have no doubt that there are some common misconceptions with respect to what kind and how much physical activity is needed for one to experience "health benefits". I know this because I've seen it numerous times in my practice.
"I don't have time to go to the gym."
"I don't like to do _________."
"I can't do__________ because __________."
I believe the media has a part to play with regards to why people often hit these roadblocks to success. The media has largely influenced our understanding and expectations towards what a "healthy" and "fit" person looks like. I have no doubt those glamorized in the media have put a significant amount of time and energy into obtaining their washboard abs, muscular glutes, etc. I can appreciate that for some it may feel far-removed and impossible to attain. The great thing for those of you who may not be getting as much physical activity as you should - you are the ones who will see the most benefit from adding just a small amount of designated exercise time to your weekly schedule! If you don't exercise at all, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity for 5 days of the week will do wonders for your health. If you already put in a weekly 150 total minutes of moderate activity - increasing it to 200 minutes is even better. At a certain point though, you'll start to see a diminishing return with regards to the time one puts into their physical health and their resultant health profile.
The 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day for 5 days of the week a recommended minimum set by many health advisory boards. If you can't commit to the 150 total minutes of moderate activity per week, then start with 75. Something is better than nothing! After a few weeks I bet you'll feel better due to things such as a reduction in weight, improved mood, or better sleep. Before you know it, you'll have no problem fulfilling the 150 minute recommendation.
If physical activity (structured or unstructured) is new to you, you may want to sit down and think about your goals going forward. The work and family demands one may have can pose certain challenges when trying to be physically active. More times than not I find that the disconnect between intention and successful and continual execution of physical activity goals is their fundamental setup. Using the common acronym SMART in reference to goal setting is a simple way reflect and evaluate whether or not the goals you've set for yourself are reasonable. It's worthwhile discussing these goals with your healthcare team as they can provide feedback on your goals to determine if they're both healthy and appropriate.
Oh, and for more information about Exercise is Medicine, please visit: http://www.exerciseismedicine.ca/.