Welcome to Week 2 of The Whole U’s six-week Dare to Do New Year’s challenge! Each week of the challenge will focus on a different area of overall wellness. You can learn how it works and register here. This week, thousands from across the University of Washington will Dare to Move in a challenge to get active with aerobic and strength training activities in 2020. Get daily challenges to stay accountable by following us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and read on to learn how to reach goals and get active!
Do you know how much physical activity you get in a day? How do you quantify it? Do you use a watch, an app, or a tracker that counts your steps, miles, or minutes? For many, tech can help, but is all that tech really going to be the sole factor in motivating us to move more? Think back to a time when we didn’t need a watch to tell us to get active.
As a kid, I remember going outside to play in the yard or down the street at the park for hours—only coming back inside when we were hungry or when we lost the light. I grew up involved in school athletics that led me to become a collegiate athlete dedicating hours and hours a day on my physical fitness. My passion for wellness carried on into my career but wow what a change when I lost that window of opportunity to play or compete to exercise!
The biggest barrier to regular exercise is time. As we get older, the time we have available to devote to exercise seems to get carved up among so many more responsibilities and it feels that much more difficult to make our health and wellness a priority. Why is that? This is the time that matters most.
Physical activity is known to improve mood, productivity, overall health, self-confidence, skin, bones, and keep us more youthful in every sense of the word. So why would we ever give this up? Why would we not make time for it? Even with a career in health and wellness, I have to make a consensus effort to exercise every day and strive to reach the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans as outlined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This comprehensive publication offers guidelines for children, adolescents, adults—including women during pregnancy and the postpartum period, as well as adults with chronic health conditions and adults with disabilities—and older adults.
Here’s a summary of what adults should strive for each week:
- 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or
- 75-150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity or
- An equivalent combination of both!
Aerobic example plan:
- 3 days of 35 minutes of moderate intensity (at a level that allows you to carry on basic conversation)
- 2 days of 25 minutes of vigorous intensity (work super hard – interval training: hard for a few minutes and easy for a few minutes, then repeat)
Strength training involves working all major muscle groups on two or more days per week.
Strength training example plan
2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions (with moderate weight and build to heavier weight)
- Squats (or Single Leg Squats)
- Single Bicep Curls
- Walking Lunges
- Single Tricep Extensions
- Single Step Ups
- Single Shoulder Press
- Single Rows
- Spinal Balance
- Fire Hydrants
- Curl Ups or slow crunches
So the goal is to try new things, find exercises you like and can stick with for some time and then be willing to continue trying new things. Change it up! Doing the same thing over and over and over again will get boring and your body will find the most efficient way to get through it, therefore your results will plateau.
Anything is better than nothing, though! Don’t be afraid of strength training but be sure to have someone show you proper form, check out our videos online, and progress at your pace.
You say you’ve seen it and heard it all before? Here are some strategies I like to utilize that you might find helpful for making sticking to fitness a priority in 2020!
Find Your Window of Opportunity
Plan. Plan. Plan. It is very difficult to be spontaneous with an exercise plan especially with a busy schedule. Whatever form of calendar you use – add your planned exercise to it. Just like a meeting or time carved out for meals, mark it down! Windows of opportunity can also be spread out throughout your day. Look at your schedule and mark off a few 15- 20 min gaps. Exercise doesn’t always have to be super sweaty! BLOCK IT OFF!
There are different kinds of motivation. One form is the motivation to stick to your routines. Another is the motivation to actually get through the workout.
Motivation to stick with your goals
Is your goal to train to walk or run a 5K, half-marathon, or marathon? Do you want to stay healthy for your kids and be that role model? Is it how good you feel when you exercise that motivates you? Or do you have or want to find an exercise buddy? Accountability is part of motivation. Whatever your motivation is, be sure to remind yourself of it especially on the days you don’t feel up for the challenge. Those are the most rewarding!
Motivation during exercise
Find a buddy, use an app, play music, listen to audio books or an inspiring podcast! Whatever keeps you going, keep at it!
Goals and progress checks
Set some fitness goals. Make them specific and measurable and face those PE class fears and perform some benchmarks. The following test is a suggestion to try:
- Mile time (walk, jog, or run): _________
- Total Push-ups without rest: _________
- Total squats without rest: _________
- Total crunches in 1 minute: __________
If the above isn’t what you are looking for, make your own. Track the amount of weight that you able to lift for each exercise or the amount of minutes you are able to exercise each week. It all works. The key is to keep striving for progress. Take a measure of your fitness every 4-6 weeks.
Celebrate your victories
When you impress yourself or reach a milestone, don’t hold back—celebrate! Tell a friend or a coworker. Post the results on social media. Go shopping. Take a trip! Celebrate the victories as they come, but make sure these celebrations of health and fitness align with the health and fitness goals they seek to celebrate. Remember, you earned and deserve this.
This year, I dare you to try new things, continue to change up your routine, increase your intensity a little, and celebrate being able to move! What a gift.
Get even more from your experience working at the UW by heading to our events page where you’ll find do-it-yourself downloads that will help you take life to the next level—everything from helpful kitchen “cheat-sheets” for creating delicious, nutritious meals to workout plans for getting stronger and healthier overall.