Physical activity is very important to keep the body healthy and strong. According to the American Heart Association, moderate exercise for 150 minutes or vigorous exercise for 75 minutes per week lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke. However, adults who are swamped with work do not have enough time to spare. So, AHA found an alternative to help people achieve the recommendation.
Positive Benefits of Physical Exercise
Physical exercise lowers the risk of many diseases, particularly the ones related to aging. The longevity provided by physical activity comes from the exertion of specific body parts, such as the lungs and the muscles. Having consistent exercise incurs the following positive changes:
1. Burns calories: Exercise helps people manage their weight problems, especially those who are struggling with obesity. When the body moves, the muscles use blood sugar or glucose to perform actions. And the more the body moves, the more energy it requires. As a result, the body burns excess fat and blood sugar that trims down weight.
2. Helps the lungs: Aside from sugar, the body also needs oxygen to fuel the muscle. Muscle cells need adenosine triphosphate -- the energy currency of living cells -- to contract, and it can only be obtained from oxygen. The lungs retrieve more oxygen when the body exercises to sustain the energy demand of the muscles. And during that process, the lungs may reach the VO2 max or the maximum capacity of oxygen use. A higher VO2 max determines better aerobic endurance and fitness of the body.
3. Improves brain function: The brain receives several benefits during physical exercise. First, certain neurotransmitters are released in the brain, such as endorphins that reduce pain and stress. Second, it helps the brain to improve focus and concentration needed for a well-coordinated body. Third, it improves the blood flow to the brain, thereby nourishing neurons.
4. Helps the heart: When the body breathes more and performs strenuous activities, more blood is needed to supply the cells. Consistent exercise improves blood flow, normalizes blood pressure, and induces new blood vessels to grow.
5. Strengthens the bones: The skeletal system also benefits from physical exercise. For every time the body exercises, it reduces the loss of bone mass during adulthood and helps prevent certain diseases such as osteoporosis.
All of these health benefits can be achieved easily if people exercise for 75 to 150 minutes per week. But that amount of time is nearly impossible to spare especially for adults who work eight to nine hours a day in the office. Additionally, these adults also spend one to two hours traveling via private vehicles. And when they reach home, they are likely too tired to devote minutes to physical exercise that often leads to a sedentary lifestyle, a lifestyle with little to no physical activity.
“There’s a strong link between a sedentary lifestyle and the risk of death. It also increases the risk of adverse health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many types of cancer,” explained Qaiser Mukhtar, a health scientist from the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dividing the Minutes into Several Bouts
While the 75 to 150 minutes per week requirement seems a lot, the AHA explained that the total minutes can be divided into several bouts. According to Dr. Michael V. McConnell, head of Cardiovascular Health Innovations at Verily Life Sciences, several bouts of even less than 10 minutes at a time can be beneficial to the body.
Office workers who are susceptible to a sedentary lifestyle can perform 150 minutes of moderate exercise in a week. They can segment it into two to three 10-minute moderate activity per day to achieve the total minutes. Moreover, moderate exercise can also be performed at the office to reduce the time spent in sedentary positions.
1. Traditionally, meetings are performed with seated members but no rules exist that prohibit walking in meetings. Attendees can conduct walking meetings by following a specific route in the office space to avoid disrupting other workers. The activity exercises the heart, improves blood flow, boosts mental abilities, and may even prevent boredom from occurring.
2. If you need to discuss something with a coworker, avoid phone calls if possible. Get off the chair and walk to their desk then discuss the topic at hand.
3. When going to the restroom, try going to the restroom on the next floor or the one below your office floor. This allows your body to move and burn some calories, and may even help you in generating ideas while walking. However, a demanding call of nature can excuse this option.
4. Certain occupations spend most working hours on the phone, such as contact centers. Instead of sitting lamely on your chair, try standing up while dealing with the phone call. If the system allows wireless communications, walk along the aisle as you deal with the customer or the client.
5. Consider taking public transportation from time to time. The walking distance can be disruptive but that allows your body to get some exercise on certain days.
Workers who are healthy perform better at work. They are more productive and efficient in finishing tasks and are unlikely to suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.
[메디컬리포트=Ralph Chen 기자]