150 Minutes

I think said I would write more about my 2012 goals. The one I wanted to harp on first was the goal to get 150 minutes of activity a week. Goals around exercise and/or weight loss are usually doomed from the start because they involve unrealistic expectations and/or timelines.

Experts would say that you should measure inputs, not outputs. Minutes completed, not pounds lost, and that sort of thing. So I decided to make it a goal to get 150 minutes of exercise a week. Or maybe I should say “physical activity” instead of “exercise.” I am told that you can consider as “physical activity” anything that gets your heart rate up and/or makes you sweat.

150 minutes is just 2.5 hours. Why so little? Because not only is it achievable, it’s the scientifically-proven level at which the relevant physical and mental health benefits accrue. (Doing more than 150 minutes a week is great but comes with diminishing returns in terms of overall health, interestingly.)

This video, 23 and 1/2 hours, explains the science and is really well-done:

Incidentally, the company I work for (again, rhymes with “Blaiser Germanente”) is keen on evidence-based medical practice, which includes encouraging its members to exercise regularly. Specifically, to walk regularly, for those who haven’t exercised regularly in a long time. Walking’s easy. Almost everyone can do it. They even have this little site where you can enter your minutes and it tracks your progress on a map of the Pacific Northwest. It’s cheesy and delightful.

Incidentally, one of my projects within said organization was to manage the launch of a new initiative where physical activity would be treated as a vital sign. You know how, every time you go to the doctor, you’re asked about allergies and smoking status? And your weight and blood pressure are taken? Every single time? The idea is that exercise should fit in with that roster of vitals, because the link between exercise and overall health status is indisputable at this point.

Anyway, seeing as how I’m working on this project to encourage doctors to talk with patients about exercise consistently, I thought I should try and tag along with my own personal goal to do 150 minutes a week. So far so good. A few gym trips per week along with a longer hike once in awhile, and there you go.

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