Can you guess how much of your time you need to spend to hit the recommended physical activity level for adults? Hint: it's probably a lot lower than you think it is.
The NZ Ministry of Health recommends that adults spend 2.5 hours per week doing moderate physical activity. Now, let's assume you know how important sleep is, so you average about eight hours per night. That leaves 112 non-sleeping hours per week for you to play with. It should be more than enough time, right?After all, 2.5 hours out of 112 is only 2.2% of your time. That's all it takes to see many of the health benefits of fitness.
Despite the surprisingly low time requirement, only 51% of NZ adults meet this standard. You're busy and you have other stuff to take care of—we get it. But there's a common misconception here, and it's a big one.Physical activity isn't black and white. We're going to explain how changing the way you view it can you help become more active and improve your health.
It sounds obvious, but stay with us for a second. One of the best things you can do for your activity level is to stop thinking of physical activity as just fitness. That's not to say they aren't synonymous, but we tend to look at fitness through a narrow lens. If you're not smashing the weights for X sets over Y time, it's not really a "workout." It's easy to settle into this type of limiting mindset, especially if you don't have any prior experience with physical activity.
Instead, think of physical activity as movement, and movement comes in many shapes and sizes. If you're moving, regardless of the type of activity, you're doing better than someone who isn't moving.
It's another obvious point, but we believe it's an important one. We deal with a lot of things in life where something isn't always better than nothing, but physical activity isn't one of them. Sure, it'd be great to reach the recommended activity level, and that's certainly a goal to work towards, but activity isn't all or nothing. You're not foregoing every single benefit of being active by doing 1.5 hours of moderate activity instead of 2.5 hours. Lucky for us, it doesn't work like that.
Is 2.5 hours better than 1.5 hours? Definitely, but you're still reaping some health benefits by doing some activity, and that's what you need to remember. Rather than passing on exercise entirely because you can't fully commit to a program, you should jump in and do what you can.
We briefly talked about fitness through a narrow lens in the first point, but there's much more to say. Remember, physical activity is movement and some movement is better than no movement. With such a broad scope, any activity that forces you to move—and that you enjoy—is worth doing. In other words, your options for physical activity jump from the single digits to the triple digits. They're not limitless, but there are enough choices that you're bound to find something that makes you happy.