NAP Challenge #11: Be FITT – Every Step Counts
Adding UP Minutes: This week I will find at least 10 minutes of "hidden" activity opportunities every day. This will help me to reach and maintain my ultimate goal of doing 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days per week.
Stepping on UP: This week everyday I will find at least 1,000 "hidden" step opportunities every day. This will help me reach and maintain my ultimate goal of 10,000 – 12,0000 steps daily.
You are almost there! Over the past 10 weeks you have learned how to make physical activity a regular part of your routine. Way to go! The last step on this journey is to plan for the unexpected – those days when life gets in the way and you can't fit in the physical activity you planned. Don't let those days discourage you. Just because you didn't make it to the gym or outside for your lunchtime walk doesn't mean you can't be physically active. In our world of convenience, it is possible to make it through the day without moving at all. But if you are mindful about your choices you can fit in a significant amount of activity into your regular daily routine. Your challenge this week: find the "hidden" opportunities in your day to be physically active because every step really does count!
Being sedentary increases your cancer risk and may increase your waistline. In our world of convenience and technology, we have engineered away the need to be physically active throughout our day. Think about it: we take the escalator instead of the stairs, we send an email instead of walking to our co-worker's desk, we use a remote to change the television channel, and we drive EVERYWHERE! It may not seem like a lot of activity at the time, but all of those opportunities you have in your day to take a trip up the stairs really can add up to be an appreciable amount of physical activity (you'll burn approximately 10 calories per flight of stairs). And it doesn't take any extra planning on your part – it just requires that you be mindful of your choices. Taking advantage of these "hidden" opportunities to be physically active will help you meet your goal for physical activity every week, even when unexpected challenges disrupt your routine.
- Get out of your seat. Stand and pace more; sit less at work and home.
- Take the stairs. Challenge yourself to take the stairs everywhere you go: at work, at the mall, etc. If you have many flights to climb and can't make it all the way to the top, start by climbing as many flights as you can before riding elevators or escalator.
- Schedule active meetings. Have "walking meetings" with coworkers, clients and fellow volunteers.
- Hand deliver messages. Take a walk to personally deliver messages instead of emailing, texting or phoning.
- Park farther away. The best spot isn't necessarily the one closest to the entrance. Park at the back of a parking lot or a few blocks from where you need to go in order to fit in a few extra steps/minutes of walking. Be mindful of safety too.
- Try a different bus stop. Get off the bus one stop (or two, or three stops…) earlier.
- Be an active commuter. Walk or bike to work at least once a week.
- Do active errands. Walk or bike instead of driving, especially if destinations are less than one mile away.
- Be active around the house. Do house and yard work – dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, scrubbing, raking, weeding are all great ways to be physically active. Ultimate opportunity to multi-task!
- Take activity breaks. Anytime you are sitting for long periods of time (e.g. watching TV, working, traveling) plan for some short bursts of activity. Stop what you are doing for 5 minutes and move! Run in place; do jumping jacks, push-ups, or sit-ups; dance; or do some chair exercises – it doesn't matter what you do, just get yourself moving for a few minutes. Other ideas: You can stretch and lift hand weights while watching movies and TV especially at commercials, get up to change TV channels, walk or run on a treadmill while watching TV or movies, do chair exercises at work, stop the car and walk around the parking lot at a rest stop, or do leg lifts while on a plane.
- Write it down! Be sure to keep track of all your short and long bursts of activities – the time and the steps add UP!
Knowledge is Power! Did You Know?
That walking for 30 minutes at the moderate pace of 3.5 miles per hour you burn 200 calories? And, that as you get more active for longer periods of time and more vigorously, you improve your odds of preventing cancer, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes, arthritis, depressions, and dementia.
Putting it ALL Together – Be FITT
As you reach the end of your 12-week challenge, it is important to review what you've learned and to give you a parting guide to help you maintain the good habits you've developed. These past few months knowingly or unknowingly you have been applying the FITT principle. You have been increasing Frequency by walking more days a week, increasing Intensity by walking faster miles, increasing Time by walking for longer durations, and changing Type of activities by trying new forms of physical activity and varying your routine.
As you maintain your physically active lifestyle you may hit plateaus: you may stop seeing improvements with your weight loss or you may lose your motivation. If this happens, think FITT! Frequency – Intensity – Time – Type. Consider adding another day of walking (Frequency), walk faster (Intensity) or walk longer (Time), or try something new (Type). By applying this principle you will maximize your health benefits! The tips below will help you to do this safely and effectively.
The FITT Principle
The FITT principle applies to all types of physical activity: aerobic, strength and flexibility. Use the FITT Principle to help guide your activity routine.
- Frequency – Plan to walk or do aerobic activities at least 5 days a week. You may exercise more vigorously 3-4 times a week and simply walk for an hour the other days. Incorporate strength activities 2-3 times per week and incorporate flexibility (stretching) activities 5-7 days per week.
- Intensity – Aim to do moderate-to-vigorous intensity activities every day. You'll know you are at a higher intensity of activity when your heart beats faster and your breathing rate increases. Remember to use the "Talk Test" to help you gauge your intensity level (see Talk Test).
- Type – Vary your activities. Don't get stuck in a workout rut. Try out different activities to keep your body and mind challenged. Remember there are three major types of activities: strength activities such as lifting weights at a gym or stretching with resistance bands or doing push ups or pull ups; aerobic or cardiovascular activities such as brisk walking, jogging, running, playing soccer, basketball, volleyball, or dancing, and swimming; and flexibility activities such as bending and touching your toes, reaching for the sky, and stretching from side to side. Yoga is also a flexibility activity. Be sure to include each type of activity into your routine (see Frequency for goal number of days for each type of activity).
- Time – Shoot for 60! In order to achieve and maintain your weight loss goals you should aim to do 60 minutes of moderate-to-to vigorous intensity activities five or more days each week. Remember, exercise may be divided into shorter periods. Keep moving and increasing the total minutes you are active throughout the day – it all adds UP!
- Write down your FITT changes. Small Steps add UP toward being FITT!
- AICR online articles:
- AICR Health Talk:
- Other Resources
- US Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- Let's Move
- Physical Therapy - Workplace Yoga
- National Strength and Conditioning Association, 1-888-746-2378. Free online strengthening videos.
- The Presidential Challenge Adult Fitness Test
Published on June 12, 2012