We all know that making time for exercise is essential for our physical and mental health, especially for those spending long hours sitting at a desk. Being confined to home, particularly during winter months, makes it even more challenging — and more critical than ever.
What ways can we keep our bodies moving throughout the day? What creative activities can we add to our exercise routine? And how do we increase our motivation when it comes to staying active?
Instructor and OSU Faculty Staff Fitness Coordinator Dee Gillen has the answers.
“I think we all go out trying to find some magic pill to make us healthier or get stronger,” she says. “Honestly, I’m convinced that exercise is that magic pill.”
Exercise decreases stress and body tension, increases our metabolism and energy, builds stronger muscles and thicker bones, and prevents heart disease and diabetes, she says.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even small periods of exercise are beneficial and lead to us moving more and sitting less.
“It will add up over time. If you have five minutes, take it,” she says.
Dee also recommends high-intensity intervals as a great way to metabolically charge your body and get you going.
To boost motivation, Dee suggests keeping a calendar, digital or print, and marking the days you exercise so that you can physically see your achievements in staying active. Rewarding yourself with something that feeds back into the activity can also increase your motivation, she says.
For parents looking for ways to keep kids active, Dee recommends getting outside when possible, enjoying family dance parties and exercise boot camps, and using the stairs for cardio, which is something her new teenage daughter enjoys.
“It’s such a key thing for passing on healthy behaviors, to demonstrate that you are doing the same physical activities, but also that you’re doing them together.”
Dee’s biggest tip? You’ve got to be creative and think outside the box.
“Use soup cans or laundry detergent bottles as dumbbells,” she says. “And try to make everyone in your cohort make this a high priority and hold each other accountable. I think that’s a crucial piece, coming together to stay fit.”
This story is adapted from our “10 in 10” video series: 10 questions, in 10 minutes, with a college faculty member on a topic related to human health and well-being. Want more? Read the latest on Synergies and watch full episodes on the college’s YouTube channel.