Thursday, November 26th, 2020

Life Balance and Exercise

By Nicole Yamanaka on Jul 05 2010 • Filed under Health

Being healthy and fit doesn’t have to be complicated, painful or a huge chunk of your life.

Everyone is dispensing advice these days on topics ranging from “managing finances” to “managing people,” from “setting SMART goals” to “surrendering and letting go.” There never seems to be enough time in a day to do it all. I don’t know about you, trying to find ways to jam it in to your life can seem like a daunting task.

I hope I’m preaching to the choir when I mention the benefits of regular physical activity such as the reduction of the risk of getting cardiovascular disease. Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women in North America? Yes, more than breast cancer. Exercise lowers your risk of diabetes and other obesity-related diseases. Physical activity helps manage stress, weight and body composition. It helps you sleep better, think clearer and be more productive. In short, find me a reason that you should NOT be physically active.

I’d have to say, taking time to take care of yourself really is the most important thing to do (but perhaps I’m a little biased). I mean, without YOU, your health and sanity, what do you have?

So let’s help you find ways to get some exercise and activity into your hectic life and keep it simple!

What is the bottom line?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention / American College of Sports Medicine recommends that “adults should engage in moderate-intensity physical activities for at least 30 minutes on five or more days of the week (a total of 150 minutes) AND muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week."   An alternative, if you are short on time, is “vigorous physical activity for 15 minutes on five days or more days of the week (a total of 75 minutes) AND muscle strengthening activities on two or more days a week.”

One really simple framework for helping you get physical activity into your life is by using the FITT formula:

F = frequency

How many times per week?

I = intensity*

How much oomph will you pack into each workout? (see heart rate zone calculation at bottom of page)

T = time

How much time can you create for each workout?

T = type

What activities do you enjoy doing that will be the right intensity for that time? (ex: knitting does not count).

Let’s use Stacey, mompreneur extraordinaire, as an example. Stacey is 47, has an average fitness level, walks with the kids often and can spare 30 minutes a day, seven days a week to exercise. She has no injuries and has her doctor’s approval to begin a program. Her FITT formula would look like this:


Some days Stacey finds it difficult to get a full 30 minutes into her routine, so she’ll break it up into three 10 minute bouts throughout the day.

If Stacey was a real go-getter, and had little time to spare for exercise (time means money!) then her workout program might look like this:


Program One has Stacey doing cardio five days a week for 30 minutes at a lower intensity. Program Two has her doing cardio three days a week for 25 minutes at a higher intensity. Which is better? It depends on your schedule and your personality. I would rather compact my workout into something efficient and push myself harder, whereas some people prefer a more relaxed pace and enjoy the extra “me” time. Just do whatever works for you.

The truth is we were born to move and be active. With the demands and “conveniences” of our world, we sit at breakfast, if we manage to fit that in, sit in transit, sit at our desks, sit for lunch, sit on the way home (or if you’re stuck in busy public transit, standing), sit for dinner, sit on the couch to watch TV or sit at our home office and do more work, then lay down to sleep.  And yes, that is really tough on our bodies.

Creating time for your health and fitness shouldn’t be a burden or cause stress.  It can be simple, it can be fun and with a little planning and structure, you can FITT it in!

 * To calculate your theoretical target heart rate zone (for intensity levels):

(220 – your age) x 60% = lower end

(220  your age) x 75% = middle range

(220  your age) x 85% = upper end

There are more complex, accurate ways of calculating an individual’s theoretical heart rate – the Karvonen method, for example, but that’s another article.

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