Hitting recommended activity goals is tough, exercise researcher admits

Researcher and blogger Travis Saunders recommends sprinkling exercise throughout your work day because it's easy to let it slip after your shift is done.

UPEI kinesiology prof says exercising 150 minutes a week tough even for him

Trying to find time to go to the gym makes it tougher to reach weekly exercise goals, says physical activity researcher and blogger Travis Saunders. (Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty)

A UPEI professor who researches the importance of regular exercise says even he finds it difficult to get the recommended amount of activity each week.

Travis Saunders says even with his fairly flexible work schedule and supportive home life, he finds it a challenge to meet the recommended goal of at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week. 

"It's just having the time to fit it in during the day. It's really hard if you work full time, if you have kids at home, if you have a partner. It's tough to find time to fit that 25 minutes into the day."

UPEI kinesiologist Travis Saunders sprinkles exercise throughout his work day, like running to his interview with CBC, so he doesn't have to cram it in at the end of the day. (Laura Chapin )

Saunders admits in the last two years he's only made it to the gym once after work. 

"By the time you're done, you want to eat, and I think that time just evaporates," said Saunders. "It's not the thing you actually want to do at the end of the day."   

That's why the kinesiologist recommends integrating small spurts of exercise throughout the day instead of trying to do the 20-plus minutes all at once.

Sprinkling activity

"What works much better is to try and sprinkle activity throughout your day," Saunders suggested, such as walking or biking to work — even part of the way.

He said his parents lived too far from work to use active transportation the whole way, so they parked a short distance away to build exercise naturally into their daily life.

"And then when you get home at night you've already done your activity so you don't have to worry about trying to cram it in when you really don't have time." 

Saunders said workplaces with showers or workout rooms also make it easier for people to reach the weekly recommended goals. 

"It takes a lot less time than driving to the gym after work," he said.

Saunders published a blog post on Tuesday recommending small groups get together for a 'walk-meeting' instead of getting together over coffee. Another option is to always take the stairs, if possible.

"There are lots of studies showing if you put a sign by an elevator reminding people it's better to take the stairs, people will take the stairs." 

Another suggestion Saunders floated is cancelling your TV cable package for the summer to encourage you to get off the couch and outdoors more, or use an app that limits the amount of time you spend on your iPad. 


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