There are mountains of research, tons of studies, and endless reports stating Americans need to be more physically active. Of course, the truth is – most of us already know we should be more active – it can’t hurt right? But, it seems like everywhere you turn there’s different advice on how much exercise is the right amount. Which is why finding the right amount of physical activity, combining it with the right intensity level, and balancing that with the rest of a busy life can feel a tad overwhelming.
We do our best to keep up with the latest research and recommendations and here are some of the reasons adding about 20 minutes of physical activity to your daily routine makes sense to us and why we think it’s a good goal to start you on the path to better health:
1. South Dakotans Need More Physical Activity
According to South Dakota’s 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, only 18.4% of adults achieved the recommended level of both aerobic and muscle strengthening physical activity, and 25.8% of adults are getting NO physical activity outside of work. What’s even more concerning is that 72% of South Dakota youth (9-12 grade) does do not get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity. Bottom line, we all need to get more exercise.
We checked in with South Dakotans on the subject and here’s what we found:
When we think about adding exercise to our list, walking is the number one activity of choice, and the one we are most likely to engage in most often.
Walking is more fun with someone.
Friends, family, pets, or co-workers make walking (aka: exercising) easier, something we can look forward to, and something that we will do more regularly.
Walking covers a lot of bases.
No special equipment or membership required. You can walk fast, slow, up, down, in or out. No matter what your personal level of fitness, walking is something that almost everyone can add to their daily routine.
2. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Goal: 150 Minutes Per Week
The federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion works with a variety of federal and state agencies and keeps track of all kinds of data. Based on this data, they have recommended Americans increase the amount of physical activity we get. Specifically, for adults, they recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous intensity.
That might sound a little intimidating, but when you break it down… it’s really only about 20 minutes per day.
3. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities
Recently, the Surgeon General also weighed in on the need for more physical activity, pointing to the numerous health benefits of walking with a Call to Action to increase walking across the United States by calling for improved access to safe and convenient places to walk and wheelchair roll and by creating a culture that supports these activities for people of all ages and abilities. And, because walking is one of the easiest and most common forms of exercise, it only makes sense to make walking a national priority.
4. Take The First Step – About 20 Minutes At A Time
There are plenty of sources, reports and recommendations pointing to walking as an easy way to increase levels of physical activity. And most experts will agree that adding between 20 and 30 minutes of exercise to your daily routine is a good place to start. The best part about walking for about 20 minutes a day is that it’s an attainable goal. It’s long enough to provide a number of benefits to your overall health, and short enough to fit into your regular routine.
So what are you waiting for? Take the first step, grab a friend, and take a walk! All you need is about 20 minutes! Walk, walk, walk!
Sources & Other Helpful References:
2013 South Dakota Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
Get Movin’! Infographic
South Dakota Physical Activity Study
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Promote Walking and Walkable Communities