Just thinking differently about moving your body can help make all those excuses for not exercising disappear — and we have science to back it up. For movement to count as exercise, you don't have to sweat, you don't have to go at it for a minimum of 30 minutes and you don't have to feel the burn, says Michelle Segar, a sport and health psychologist at the University of Michigan Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center.
Here's what to remember:
- Everything counts when it comes to movement, so choose to move at every opportunity. Even short bouts have measurable benefits, and they can help you build up fitness.
- The more you move, the stronger you get — but you have to start somewhere.
- Use the immediate payoffs, like improved mood, energy level, creativity and executive functioning, as motivation.
- Try different forms of exercise until you find what you actually like.
In this episode, we also hear from Loretta DiPietro, an exercise research scientist at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health. She tells us about a geeky but cool resource called the Compendium of Physical Activities, a guide that researchers use to compare apples and oranges when it comes to exercise. The compendium measures movement using a value called a MET, or metabolic equivalent. Mopping the floor, for instance, is 3.5 METs; ballroom dancing measures at nearly 8 METs. Knowing these values might just encourage you to add more movement throughout your day.