Marie-Eileen shares her thoughts on the new recommendations for 60 minutes per day of physical activity, including how to incorporate exercise into our lives and what kind of example we set for the children around us.
After so many changes last year, here we are in 2012. This is the first season of my favorite Sunday evening show, 60 Minutes, without Andy Rooney.
What a loss—I so looked forward to listening to him talk about what irritated him or what should bother us. It prompted a laugh at times, but mostly it was a subtle awakening to what was happening around us, what we often overlooked or let occur.
Speaking of awakening, this year the Today show celebrates its 60th anniversary. Amazing; it seems like only yesterday Today and I were kids! On that show as well, our attention is drawn to what we should be concerned with in our daily lives.
However, “the new 60” is not our age, or the show without Mr. Rooney. No, the new 60 is the initiative to get us moving—off the couch and onto our feet. Many of you who have followed my columns will recall that at least once a year I reflect on getting healthy. Often it is a focus on healthier living, preventive screenings, and better eating. This will be a bit different; it is about including exercise in our daily lives.
Over the past few months, I have become intrigued with the concept of 60 minutes of daily exercise. While the focus of this initiative is on getting our kids moving, the subtle message is to decrease the incidence of obesity in our children. The prevalence, along with the sequelae of lifelong chronic illnesses, has made decreasing childhood obesity a national goal of Healthy People 2020.
The message is not lost on my generation; however, the delivery is a bit different: “a body in motion tends to stay in motion.” This does not truly address the problem of being overweight in our later years, but it strives to encourage us that if we keep moving the weight will stabilize. At least that is my take on it.
Unfortunately, our lives have become overrun with electronic conveniences. We shop online and have our packages delivered; we download our music and books to a handheld device. No longer do we spend time window-shopping or browsing library shelves—no, now we “let our fingers do the walking.”
What if we need to return those purchases? Well, we simply call UPS or the postal service and someone comes to pick them up. My goodness, what an inert society we are now!
More importantly, if that is what our children see us doing, what a poor example we set. How can we motivate and direct our youth to get out and get active, if we are not doing it ourselves? We need to join forces with the national momentum and get moving.
The National Football League is enthusiastic about its Play 60 campaign (www.nfl.com/Play60), designed to get all of us to be active for 60 minutes a day (does jumping up and down while watching the game count?), in order to reverse the trends of childhood (and, I would submit, adult) obesity. The campaign site includes links to different activities for young and old alike. Granted, many of the activities appear “football-related,” but as I look deeper, the training to stay in shape for a professional athlete is no different than for the general public. The basics are the same: strength, toning, and endurance. And it isn’t just the NFL. All the professional sports players are pushing us to get moving by doing some type of activity. Walk, run, ride a bike, swim, or play golf. Do anything, but just do it.
So what does 60 minutes a day entail? Is it an entire hour all at once, or 10 minutes six times a day? If exercise is not a part of your daily routine, any addition is an improvement—so start small and build up. A little bit each day, carve out the time from all your work-related activities. Before you know it, you will be craving that activity!
Remember the suggestions of earlier years: If you must drive to the store, park at the far end of the parking lot. Use the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator, or walk down, ride up. Think of those two suggestions: Get healthy and be green at the same time.
We all know that habits, good or bad, take time to have a foothold on us. Take the time to make being active a habit. It is a good one to get into, especially with activities we can do outdoors. A healthy dose of fresh air makes us feel better, look better, sleep better, and think more clearly.
I am looking differently at 60 now. My goal is 60 minutes a day of some activity. Beginning now: I am off to play golf—walking and carrying my clubs! I hope to live as long as Andy Rooney.
What about you? What does your 60 look like? Share your thoughts by emailing NPEditor@qhc.com.