This was the greeting I received Monday when I went into work (In my spare time, I’m a wellness specialist at a local software company.) The newest wellness program I’m promoting is “Melt Your Middle,” a lifestyle program to shrink belly fat via healthful diet and exercise habits. One of the weekly goals is to achieve 3 hours (minimum) of moderate-intensity cardio exercise.
Seems that this modest increase of 30 minutes over the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations of 150 minutes per week put some folks over the edge. “Where am I going to find 3 hours?” “That’s crazy.” soon to be followed by bargaining as to how they could cheat the goal.
To a non-exerciser, 3 hours evidently seems like a lot. In reality, it’s 0.017857 percent of the hours in a week. Yes, less than 2 percent. Thirty minutes per day for 6 days a week, 45 minutes for 4 days, an hour 3 times…you get it – break it up, make it manageable.
Of course, I advocate far more exercise per week – perhaps not the 20 + hours some of us crazies engage in – but more than three hours. For weight loss and weight maintenance, some studies suggest that 90 minutes per day, most days per week, is what it takes. When starting out, though, a small goal is far more attainable, measurable and realistic.
I gently explained that cheating the goal with “technicalities” won’t get the work done. I’ve purposely made this program a lifestyle program, rather than a weight-loss competition, so that the temptation to be “technical” won’t be as great. We’ll see how they do – for some, the three hours is an easy goal, but for most, it’s going to be a huge challenge. Remember, the cardio is only part of the challenge – they also have strength-training missives and dietary changes. We’re going slow, but it’s uphill.