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 I personally find exercising on a regular basis challenging. After an injury and a surgery, it was vital for me to continue stretching and strengthening on a regular basis. I found it was easier for me to incorporate movement in short intervals throughout my day. If you are unable to go to a gym, do not have training equipment at home, or have a busy schedule there are other options. There are ways to incorporate activity throughout your day and not have to spend a lot of money, but still get all the benefits.

In a National Institute of Health (NIH) published report found that at least one-third of the world’s population over the age of 15 is not engaged in sufficient physical activities. This inactivity contributes to the death of approximately 3.2 million people every year. Sedentary lifestyles consist of watching TV, computer, cell phone use, commuting to and from work, reading, and sitting at a desk. It is estimated that less than 20% of Americans have physically active jobs. World Health Organization (WHO) ranks insufficient physical activity is the 4th leading risk factor for mortality. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention  reports that one of the most important things you can do for your health is to move and have regular physical activity.


Inactive lifestyle can be one factor leading to the following:

  • obesity
  • heart diseases (coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke) 
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • metabolic syndrome
  • type 2 diabetes
  • certain cancers (Colon, breast, uterine)
  • osteoporosis
  • falls
  • depression/anxiety
  • premature death

There are many benefits of being active such as:

  • improved brain health
  • weight management
  • strengthened bones and muscles
  • reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome
  • lowered risk for developing certain cancers
  • decreased fall risk
  • increased the possibility of a longer life
  • helps manage chronic health conditions and pain 
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following exercise guidelines: 

For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to

300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.

Engaging in physical activity beyond 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week can provide added health benefits. 

Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity involving all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week for additional benefits.  

To download the Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition, Click Here

Ways to incorporate exercise into your day and how to get started:

  • break the time down into short increments and incorporate throughout your day
  • check with your doctor especially if pregnant or have any chronic health conditions
  • any activity is better than no activity
  • set achievable goals
  • start slow and gradually increase as tolerated
  • take advantage of technology, utilize apps, YouTube videos, or alarms
  • get an exercise buddy
  • take the steps instead of the elevator
  • park further away in parking lots
  • exercise or stretch while watching TV 
  • during commercials get up do something physical such as walk around the house or do a small chore
  • do chair yoga or chair exercises
  • incorporate gentle stretching while in bed first thing in the morning and before going to sleep
  • walk or ride a bike instead of driving
  • if taking a bus, walk to the next bus stop
  • use lunch hours to engage in some movement
  • instead of messaging co-workers, walk over to their desk
  • have walking meetings
  • take your dog for walks
  • log your activity in a diary (Click Here for a printable diary from the CDC) 

Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong are sometimes called “meditative movement.” They have been shown to alleviate stress and can increase physical, emotional, and spiritual health. There are many free YouTube videos. Tai Chi, originated in China as an ancient martial art; however, it is becoming more known for its health benefits. It is a more gentle and softer movements with controlled breathing. It is low impact, usually circular slow-motion. Muscles are more relaxed. Tai chi can be adaptive to people in a wheelchair up to people that are physically fit. For more information from the Mayo Clinic and a video on Tai Chi. Click Here. Qigong has been around for thousands of years and is part of Chinese medicine. There are different forms of Qigong. Active Qigong focuses on the whole-body movements. Passive Qigong has less movements focusing on postures, breathing, and mind exercises.

Livestrong lists several types of exercises that are important to have in your exercise program. The following types of training help to meet your body’s needs, improve and maintain your health.

  • strength training
  • weight-bearing exercise
  • non-weight-bearing exercise
  • calisthenics
  • weightlifting
  • aerobic training
  • balance and Stability training
  • coordination and agility training
  • flexibility and mobility training
  • dynamic stretching
  • static stretching

If you are planning on or are pregnant, it is always best to discuss your weight, exercise, and nutritional program with your doctor. Depending on your activity level your exercise program will vary at different stages of your pregnancy. Open and continued communication with your doctor regarding any changes you are making is important.

There is a growing trend for prenatal training. This helps woman to get in shape prior to conception and to be better prepared for childbirth. Some recommend starting conditioning at least three months prior to conceiving, especially if you have a more sedentary lifestyle. Today, we are seeing prenatal fitness centers and trainers. Look for coaches that are certified and have been trained in prenatal, pregnancy, and postpartum. Also, check their reviews. Some places may offer a free trial to give you a chance to try them out. Also, if getting a subscription ask if there is a refund policy. These programs are specifically designed to prepare you for pregnancy, delivery, and an easier recovery. More women are preparing to have a more solid foundation when it comes to preparing for childbirth. Brooke Cates, CEO and Founder of  The Bloom Method introduced this concept

worldwide with one of the first virtual pre and postnatal online classes. Her mission is to help woman with the transformation into motherhood. She believes “all women deserve to have access to safe and effective workouts geared towards whichever stage of motherhood they’re in". Prenatal fitness centers are more strategic and tend to focus more on corrective exercise, functional movement, pelvic floor exercise, breathing, and core exercises. They create a total body workout and incorporate high-intensity and low-impact interval training. They can incorporate several modalities such as weights, cardio, yoga, Pilates, or dance training.

The Mayo Clinic states that exercise can help prepare woman for both labor and delivery. However, exercise is not appropriate for all. Some studies have shown that intense exercise can decrease the chance of conception by 42%. There are some situations when your doctor would not recommend exercising. It is important to consult with your doctor and to report any changes in one’s condition if you are exercising.

Moderate exercise is generally good for both mom and the baby. Exercise can help with the following:

  • increase the chance to conceive
  • decrease constipation, bloating, backaches, and swelling
  • improve the overall pregnancy experience
  • increase energy
  • improve moods
  • increase muscle tone, strength, and endurance
  • lower the risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia
  • reduce the risk of having a cesarean section

The Mayo Clinic also recommends considering avoiding certain exercises during pregnancy. (Always consult with your doctor to access your risks)

  • exercises that you lie flat on your back after the first trimester
  • scuba diving
  • contact sports
  • exercises with a high risk of falling such as: downhill skiing, in-line skating, gymnastics, horseback riding
  • activities where you can hit water with a great force – water skiing, surfing, diving
  • exercising at high altitudes
  • exercise where there is potential to have trauma to the abdomen – kickboxing
  • hot yoga or hot Pilates

Below are a couple links regarding chair exercises. Even though these exercises could be considered safe, consult your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you have pain or discomfort with exercise, stop and contact your physician. 

Woman’s Health Magazine offers several exercises that can be done in a chair. To access their site and view the chair exercises Click Here  

Healthline offers videos of seven yoga movements that can be done in a chair. To access their website and see the videos, Click Here

The Yoga Journal has published a link with thirteen different yoga positions that can also be done in a chair. To view Click Here 

Because of the numerous benefits, moving and exercising is one of the best things you can do for you and your family. It will improve your quality of life in so many ways. It does not require a lot of money or time to see the benefits. Having more energy and feeling better allows you to have more time to do what you want to do. The Mayo Clinic states “Regular exercise can help you cope with the physical changes of pregnancy and build stamina for the challenge ahead. If you haven’t been exercising regularly, use pregnancy as your motivation to begin”.

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