Opportunistic Exercise: Use One Minute Exercises for Positive Agingby Ilchi Lee | February 26, 2018
Would you believe me if I said that 95 percent of people are living today just as they did yesterday, a month ago, a year ago, without anything changing? Renewal doesn’t just happen; it comes to those who consciously pursue it. Just like only those who open their eyes at daybreak can see the dawn, the path to a new life will not open unless one chooses it.
As one gets older, however, choosing a new path becomes increasingly difficult. People may feel that their lives are essentially over after retirement so they may lack the energy or motivation to make changes even if they see their bodies and minds deteriorating. However, making incremental small changes can make a big difference. Rather than taking on a large task, altering just one small habit can empower and revitalize our lives. This is especially true if we change our level of mindful physical activity.
The great news is that exercise does not necessarily mean a long workout several times a week. What’s important is to keep moving, even if it’s just for a single minute at a time. One study at the University of California, San Diego demonstrated that frequently interrupting prolonged sitting had a positive correlation with cardio-metabolic biomarkers such as Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, and blood lipid and glucose levels. Other studies have shown that reducing daily sedentary time to less than three hours has the effect of extending life expectancy by two years.
To increase your activity level in an easy and simple way, I suggest doing what I call “opportunistic exercise,” which is exercising from where you are when you have the opportunity.
The Power of a Single Minute
The best way of doing opportunistic exercise is One Minute Exercise, or stopping to exercise for one minute once an hour. One Minute Exercise is all about doing a short burst of exercise for 60 seconds, with a study at McMaster University in Canada has shown to be more effective than 45 minutes of moderate movement. Psychological resistance to exercise may be the culprit for developing a habit of living a sedentary lifestyle. While putting on a sweat suit, going to the gym, and exercising for an hour is a hassle, one minute can be done anywhere at any time.
For One Minute Exercise, I recommend doing exercises that effectively work your muscles and raises your heart rate in a short period of time. Depending on your condition, these exercises can include push-ups, squats, sit-ups, jumping jacks, or jogging in place. In just a short period of time, these exercises increase heart rate, body temperature, lung capacity, and muscle strength. But, if you have limited mobility, gentler exercises such as stretching or even deep abdominal breathing can serve as replacements.
To create a habit of breaking up inactivity, try setting an alarm every hour to remind you to get up and move your body whether you’re in the office, home, or even outside. There’s an app called One Minute Change that helps you do this easily.
Strengthening the Mind and Body
The most effective way to see the effects of One Minute Exercise is by mindfully focusing on the feelings experienced in the body after you’ve done it. An easy way to check in on what changes have occurred in your body and mind is to take just a few deep breaths in and out with the eyes closed. You will notice even small changes such as an increase in heart rate, more relaxed breathing, or a rise in body temperature.
It’s important to reflect on your body after doing One Minute Exercise to strengthen your mind and body. This simple practice helps concentrate scattered thoughts, release stress, and calm emotions. It is an intentional act to be present and inwardly-focused that wakes one up, bringing enhanced awareness on the body and mind. I include more details about One Minute Change in my latest book, I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years: The Ancient Secret to Longevity, Vitality, and Life Transformation.
A pounding heart, alert mind, and inward focus serve to increase passion and drive for life. Yet the best part of One Minute Exercise is the confidence you gain in how you manage your own health. You’ll realize that you can change yourself in all sorts of ways—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—and all it takes is just a little bit at a time, step by step, minute by minute.
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