To quote the great Steppenwolf circa 1968 in order to head out on the highway you have to keep your motor running. In other words, in order to keep living on the highway of life you must be physically active. By definition exercise means activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain/improve health and fitness. That alone sounds daunting so I am here today to break it down for folks who may need a jump start.

The human body is truly remarkable.

Your heart will beat roughly 4 billion times if you live to be about 80 years old. Your skin is 22 square feet in length, about enough to cover half of a ping pong table. Nerve impulses from your brain to your muscles travel a maximum of 268 miles per hour. That is fast enough to qualify for NASCAR. With these abilities, your body is designed to function at a level we certainly do not perform at on a daily basis. The average American is sedentary for 12 hours a day. And that does not include sleeping.

Photo by Scott Webb of Unsplash

Rest assured that it is never too late to give your motor a well needed tune up and some overdue time out on the highway. The main concepts everyone must keep in mind are consistency and variety. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least two and a half hours (150 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity. Activity in which the body’s large muscles (arms, legs, and abdominal muscles) move in a rhythmic manner for a sustained period of time. This activity improves cardio-respiratory fitness. Examples include walking, running, swimming, and cycling.

Do not feel you have to purchase that expensive gym membership or overpriced athletic gear. Do not be discouraged by your own physical limitations. Do not run if you have a injured knee. On Sunday, plan time throughout your week and jot it down. Tell a loved one your plan and ask them to remind you in order to increase accountability. Life is not a sprint, it is a journey. If you miss a couple of days start again next week. Do not become defeated if life events get in the way.

So Remember..

  • Physical activity must be consistent and with variety
  • Invest in a good pair of athletic shoes and a good music player to pass the time
  • Break up the 150 minutes per week to fit your schedule
  • Everything counts, from dancing to the radio at home to a brisk walk after dinner
  • Pick a five word sentence and if you cannot finish the sentence you are in the target heart rate for moderate-intense activity
  • Recruit others to join you: family, friends, pets, coworkers to help pass the time                                                                                                                          

Article written by Dr. Leia Hawkins. Mrs. Hawkins is a Queens born OB/GYN. She received her Doctorate of Medicine from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. She also graduated from the Hershey Medical Center Residency Program with a concentration in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She currently practices at Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville, MD caring for the undeserved members of the community. She has a special interest in minimally invasive surgery and high risk obstetrics. Leia is also known for her community involvement which consists of being and active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and participating with local community programs such as the SMILE Program of Montgomery County, MD and The Greater DC Diaper Bank. 

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