The American College of Sports Medicine recommends exercising 30 minutes at least 5 times per week. I ask my patients to do this at a Borg Scale level of exertion of 13-14. This correlates with moderate intensity, and I simplify it further by saying you should be working hard enough to get your heart rate up, but still be able to complete a full sentence without having to stop to catch your breath. Of course this should be the minimal amount to be considered exercise, and if you can I certainly encourage higher intensity!
In the summer months, this tends to be a lot easier, as most of us get outside to at least walk, garden, bike, swim or whatever. In Canada, our late fall and winter months start to get nastier, and the daylight hours get awfully short. For many North Americans, this tends to be a pretty good reason to avoid continuing good exercise habits set in the summer.
In my opinion, one of the best ways to maintain your activity level is to track it! Perhaps the simplest way of doing this is using a pedometer. These can be purchased almost anywhere, and the simplest versions do a reasonable job of monitoring the number of steps you take in a day. I recommend aiming for 10,000 steps over the course of a day, which translates into about 5 miles, or 8 kilometres.
Fitbit, a tech company based out of San Francisco, has just released an updated monitor of their tiny activity tracker. Not only does it measure your daily activity level, including stairs, it also monitors your sleep! Of course, this data can all be uploaded and shared with friends, if that's your thing.
There are several apps for your phone that do a similar thing and don't need a separate device. One of my favourites is the Nike+ Running app. The link goes to iTunes, but is also available on Android as well. The app is free and is nice in that your runs/walks are mapped out and paces are given. (It will even cheer you on!)
By having a simple way to monitor your activity, you can hold yourself accountable, and stay fit, even as the seasons change.
Do you use an activity tracker?
Do you have a favourite app or device for doing it?
Let me know!