The NIH offers these and other suggestions for moderate intensity exercise. While we’ll agree it’s better than driving through a car wash, it also gives the false impression that routine chores are sufficient forms of activity to improve health. They’re not.
Somewhere along the line many health professionals decided suggesting exercise in moderation was as good as recommending vigorous exercise. But moderate exercise somehow came to be defined as gardening and hosing down the car.
It’s time to stop kidding ourselves. People aren’t going to reach their risk-reduction or cosmetic goals by raking the leaves.
To truly help people, wellness managers need to step up to this fact: The only way for most Americans to achieve the health benefits of exercise is to do it every day (or darn close to every day) and to do it vigorously. We’re not talking triathlon training, but we are suggesting 20 or more minutes of heart-pounding, face-flushing, breath-stealing exercise — almost every day. Let’s get serious:
With a history dating to the French Revolution, the Sisters of Bon Secours (French for good help) traveled from Paris to the US in 1824 with a mission to minister to the sick and dying. They established the world's first recorded formal home healthcare service. Today, the Sisters remain a driving force in how Bon Secours cares for patients and employees.
Meghan Melvin (Wellness Manager, Bon Secours Richmond), notes the wellness program there traces its roots back over 20 years. “In the beginning, Cindy Stutts (Administrative Director for Wellness, Occupational Health, and EAP) offered small wellness programs at our largest facility, St. Mary’s Hospital. Over the years, it expanded to other hospitals throughout the Richmond area and into Hampton Roads.”
Take the stairs instead of the elevator; eat more vegetable servings a day; remember small steps add up to big changes. These worn-out wellness cliches point people in the general direction of physical activity and good nutrition, but they’re terribly simplistic and misleading.
The truth is, little changes here and there don’t add up to a significantly healthier lifestyle. Making a meaningful dent in existing conditions or risk factors — like overweight, obesity, metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, tobacco use, inactivity, poor nutrition, or a high-stress lifestyle — takes a lot more than a few small steps in the right direction. When was the last time someone told you they lost their spare tire — or went from desk potato to completing a 10K race — by simply vacuuming vigorously? Never; because small steps — done randomly or without being tied to a larger goal — don’t work. Here’s why:
If you work in wellness long enough, you’re bound to make a serious blunder — an error that causes big problems for participants. How you respond to it can mean the difference between recovery and growth of your program or more negative effects and stagnation. Some ways to make the best of mistakes: