To achieve health benefits, physical activity guidelines state that adults, ages 18-64 should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week. Moderate activity can be defined as 11-14 (light work – somewhat hard) on Borg’s Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale of 6-20 (6 = laying on the couch, 20 = hardest thing you’ve ever done). So why are only 57% of Albertans meeting these guidelines? In addition to lack of physical activity, Canadians are also spending on average almost 10 hours per day completely sedentary.
Dangers of Being Sedentary
Sedentary behaviour refers to any waking behaviour with a low energy expenditure while in a sitting or reclining posture. Screen time (TV viewing, video game playing, leisure time computer use) is a common sedentary behaviour, while other behaviours include time spent sitting, reading, or in passive transportation. Excessive sedentary time is associated with negative health and mortality outcomes, even for those individuals achieving health benefits and meeting the physical activity guidelines. Between family, friends, work, social life, and school, the days seem to run away leaving most people feeling like they don’t have time or energy to sneak in a workout. With advancing technology and living in a world of convenience, our recreation time has been taken over by tablets, motorized vacuums and fast food delivery services. So, what can we do to meet guidelines?
Physical Activity vs Exercise
Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure. Exercise can be defined as an activity requiring physical effort, carried out specifically to sustain or improve health and fitness. Both contribute to our 150 minutes of activity per week, but often physical activity is perceived as two hours at the gym, with the latest and greatest in fitness technology and a brand-new outfit. Being physically active doesn’t necessarily mean spending hours at the gym, as long as you’re increasing your heart rate, you’re contributing to your 150 minutes of activity per week.
150 Can be Easy
- Let’s break 150 minutes per week down even further:
- 30 minutes per day x 5 days per week
- 10 minutes x 3 bouts per day
When you break the time down into three 10-minute bouts, it seems more manageable. Some strategies for increasing physical activity include using active transportation (walking, cycling, running), parking farther away from work to add in those extra steps, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. This all contributes to not only your 150 minutes of activity per week, but it also aids in counteracting the effects of sitting!
For more information on Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines and ways get active, check out the Alberta Centre for Active Living.