Pillars of Health: Exercise

the pillars of health-elements psyhology

The final frontier! We all know exercise is essential, but why is it hard for many of us to include it in our lives? One reason may be that modern life creates obstacles to being active – we drive to work or school, sit in our offices or class all day (guilty as charged!), and then are tempted to relax in front of the TV or our smartphones at night! 

Some things to think about…

  • Children benefit from getting 60-90 minutes of exercise per day. 
  • Adults benefit from getting 30 minutes of exercise daily. 
  • Some studies show that for mild to moderate depression, exercise can be as beneficial as anti-depressants for some people.  
  • Exercise can improve attention and concentration for children and adults. Recess and gym are so crucial for academic success! Research shows that additional activity for children with ADHD can be helpful.
  • If we have sedentary day jobs or school, we may need more than just going to the gym at the end of the day. Studies show that a gym session at the end of the day may not undo the damage done by sitting all day, so finding ways to add movement throughout the day is important. 

Some things to try… 

  • Aim for 10 000 steps each day. 
  • If you have a sedentary work or school life, try to build in short bursts of activity throughout your day, like going up and down the stairs, drinking lots of water so you are forced to get up and use the bathroom, or setting a timer for 1 hour to remind yourself to move. 
  • Create an active life by including exercise in your family’s everyday activities. For example, park the car farther away from the mall, ask your teen to help you shovel the driveway, take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, or walk your kids to school instead of driving.
  • Not all exercise has to involve the gym. Gardening and yardwork can add steps to your day, help you stretch, and build strength when you need to do some heavy lifting.  
  • For kids, being active in a sport helps keep exercise a regular part of their life. 
  • Sports can be expensive so if finances are an issue, consider low-cost sports like soccer, cross-country, track and field, swimming, or skateboarding. Many community organizations offer low-cost options for kids to try out dance, basketball, and baseball. 
  • Some families may want to check out the financial support offered by KidsSport, an organization that has been helping Saskatchewan families get their kids into activities for 25 years.  
  • If you or your family are not active right now, don’t be too hard on yourself. Start small and build up. Commit to walking for 5-10 minutes a day together and add another 5 minutes every week. After six weeks, you will be at 30 minutes of daily activity! 
  • Try to keep the activity fun! Choose an exercise that you enjoy. Consider having an impromptu dance party with your family!
  • Main takeaway: sit less, walk more and have fun!

Author: Danielle Rozon, M.Ed. Registered Psychologist