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Stay Active: New Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

January 3, 2019

When it’s cold outside, it’s easy to get caught up in binge-watching your favorite shows instead of working out. But based on the updated list of physical activity guidelines for Americans from the Department of Health and Human Services, you can even use commercial breaks to stay active. The new guidelines state that all movement matters, which makes it even easier to exercise, burn some calories and get your heart rate up.

Staying active in winter will not only keep your muscles stronger, but it will help you decrease your risk for heart disease and other chronic conditions. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to accomplish your goals. Studies show a little bit of exercise can go a long way.

So, we put together a “commercial break fitness routine” you can use to keep moving all winter long. These exercises are in line with the physical activity guidelines for Americans and are designed to help you stay active during commercials or between episodes of your favorite shows.

Stay Active In Winter

  1. One Leg Balance Stand: Stand on one leg for 30 seconds. Try to keep your balance without putting your other foot on the ground, but if you begin to feel unsteady, lightly touch your toe to the ground to regain balance. After 30 seconds, switch to the other leg.
  2. Chair pose (A Yoga pose): Stand in an upright position, feet together, arms at your side. Begin in a sitting motion, sinking your hips down and reaching your arms above your head, palms facing inward. Be sure you can see your toes over your knees. If you can’t, sit back until you can. Take notice of your shoulders, drop them away from your ears. Find a good balance and stay in this position for 5 long, deep breaths.
  3. Bicycle Crunches: Start by laying flat on the floor on your back. Bring your hands together behind your head and lift your chin up toward the ceiling, bringing your head off the ground. One leg at a time, bring your knee to your chest. As you switch legs, send your other leg back into a straight position, hovering about six inches above the floor. Complete this 10 times for one set. Try to achieve three sets total.
  4. Mountain Climbers: Start on the floor in straight arm plank position. Bring your legs, one at a time, into your chest. As you kick your first leg back to starting position, bring the other to your chest, as if climbing a steep incline. Do this 10 times for one set. Complete three sets.
  5. Pushups: Start on the floor in straight arm plank position. Lower your body down just above the ground and then back up into plank position. Complete this 10 times for one set. Try to complete three sets.
  6. Burpees: Start by standing in an upright position. Crouch down and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Shoot your legs back and assume plank position. Quickly jump your legs back into a crouch position and explode up into the air, reaching your arms up overhead. Return to standing position. Repeat 10 times for one set. Complete three sets, taking short breaks in between.

As you can see, the updated physical activity guidelines for Americans makes it easier to reach your goals. The key is getting regular exercise or working in enough movement that adds up to about 30 minutes each day. If you don’t have a home gym these exercises are a good place to start.

Other Ways to Stay Active

If you want to stay active in the winter you can get by without spending lots of money and time on fitness classes. Just turn your living room into your own personal exercise space by finding a good exercise video (even on Youtube) and get to work.

And if you like yoga, you can even avoid the hassle of going out into the cold for a class by finding free yoga and other workout videos on Youtube. Here are three to get you started:

Ways to Stay Active Outdoors

The updated physical activity guidelines for Americans state any movement that gets your heart rate up, even just a little bit, is beneficial. So if your indoor exercise routine is becoming monotonous, you can use warmer winter days for things like:

  • Ice skating
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Brisk walking

The new message is you can dramatically improve your health just by moving — anytime, anywhere, and by any means that gets you active. Talk to your doctor before starting any exercise routine, but It doesn’t take much to get moving. The hardest part is committing to a plan and sticking with it.

For more information on the updated physical activity guidelines for Americans, check out our guide “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.”  Inside you’ll find more ways to ease yourself into an exercise routine and how hard you should be working out to see results.

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans