What do you think COUNTS . . . as exercise?
- Do you think you have to be doing something for a certain amount of time for it to "count" as exercise?
- Do you think you have to be breathing hard and sweating and otherwise pushing yourself to the limit for it to "count" as exercise?
- Do you think you have to be in a gym on miserable pieces of equipment for it to "count" as exercise?
Well. If you do, you're not alone! But I'm here to tell you that . . . what "counts" when it comes to exercise is different from what you think.
In days gone by, there were some pretty specific recommendations for physical fitness and health that were, basically, large amounts of high intensity activity several times a week. This was a very one-size-fits-all approach that didn't end up working for most people. And many of us, even now, still carry this mental image of what counts as exercise in our heads. Which is why we feel like we "fail" when we don't exercise like that.
But way back in 1996, the U.S. Surgeon General came out with a report on Physical Activity and Health that drastically changed the official notion of what "counted" as exercise. The updated report gave us the go-ahead to:
- Accumulate our physical activity throughout the day (it's not necessary to do all our exercise in one go)
- Be less intense in our activity (we don't have to sweat or breathe heavily for exercise to be effective)
- Count as exercise those activities we do naturally in daily life (walking, gardening, house cleaning, for example)
Somehow, though, we mostly choose to ignore that report, instead sticking with our old, outdated notions of what "counts." And then . . . we continue to feel like we're "failing."
Let's work at breaking down one fitness barrier this week: Let's reconfigure our notion of what "counts" as exercise! (Trust me. After working on removing the wallpaper from my guest bathroom this weekend, I can tell you it definitely "counts.") It's a start. Because if we can break down this mental barrier to fitness, we can move forward together from there.
So. What do you say?
What do YOU do - on the regular - that you didn't think was exercise. . . but might actually be exercise?