Physical Activity: A Vital Piece in Holistic Health
By Dr. Adelaide Durkin, Kettering College Associate Nursing Professor
This Holistic Health Corner shares self-care strategies to help us in our health goals. The CREATION Life model has been used to teach health principles at Kettering College. Previous articles have covered the “C” for Choice, the “R” for rest, the “E” for Environment, and this month we will address the “A” for Activity.
In the creation narrative, physical activity was an important component of life in paradise and after. Scriptures say that the Lord took put our first parents in charge of the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:15) 1 Interestingly, for most of our world history, most of the labor remained in agriculture until a few centuries ago. In the United States, this dramatic shift is noted in the 18th century as “the share of the U.S. workforce fell from 90% in 1790 to less than 2% today 2.
Although there may be challenges in engaging in agricultural activities today, gardening and farming promote opportunities for increased physical activity in nature and mental stimulation not to mention the nutrition benefits. 3 Thus, even in a perfect world, physical activity and contact with nature were “prescribed” by the Creator God.
If this is part of our “end goal” for our students, I would like to submit that a commitment to care for self and others with a whole-person approach is a journey that is comprised of small steps that we, as individuals and a community, take each day. For students, this starts when they seek out Kettering College through each day they attend class, lab, and clinical experiences. It means that this is a journey that each faculty, staff, and peer is part of.
The benefit of physical activity to promote health and well-being and prevent and manage disease has been consistently documented. However, despite this knowledge, less than 25% meet current guidelines for aerobic, strength, and physical activities. 4
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified disparities that present an additional barrier for individuals to meet guidelines. In the United States, some groups are disproportionately excluded from access to everyday physical activity. These include individuals who:
- Are 65 or older
- Have a disability
- Live in the Southern United States
- Have lower income
- Belong to a minority group
- Have a lower level of education
- Are females – this disparity starts as early as preschool 5
Even if you do not belong to any of the groups above, chances are you recognize you are not meeting the current guidelines for adults which state that optimally adults should engage in 75-150 minutes of vigorous activity or 150-300 minutes of moderate activity weekly. 6
You can start or increase your physical activity no matter what your current level of activity is. Here are a few strategies that have helped individuals get started or maintain their motivation to move more:
- Find a physical activity you enjoy
- Make it fun by doing activities with friends, finding fun fitness videos online, rewarding yourself, involving your pets and kids, using music, and friendly competition
- Keep a positive mindset – don’t compare yourself to others. Even short amounts of time are beneficial
- Use tools that are right for you: fitness apps, pedometer, activity log, use local facilities and spaces, ride your bike.
- It is okay to break it up through the day and work in small increments to reach your daily goal
Because most of those reading this newsletter are college students, faculty, staff, and administrators who sit for a large part of their day, here are some additional tips to move more through your work or study day including: 7
- Incorporate movement into your routine by standing or pacing during phone calls
- Stand up and move at least once an hour
- Try these exercises that can be done at your desk, such as: Strength and Balance Exercises, 10-minute Workout Anywhere or Choose Your Own Workout.
- Keep hand weights for exercises
- Use social media to support your goals: join a virtual walking club with friends sharing photos, and encouraging messages while walking. Have discussions or meetings while walking for creativity
- Use a standing desk or treadmill desk for variety.
- Alternate between sitting and standing with frequent breaks.
I hope you found something in this month’s Holistic Health Corner that encourages you to move more in work or play! Even small changes can make a great difference in your physical, mental, or relational health. Why not invite a friend or co-worker this week for a short walk?
- New International Version Bible. (1988). Zondervan. (Original work published 1973)
- Tupym M.L. & Bailey, R. (2023, March 1) The changing nature of work. Human Progress https://humanprogress.org/trends/the-changing-nature-of-work/
- Papanek, A., Campbell, C, & Wooten, H. (2023) Social and community benefits and limitations of urban agriculture University of Florida Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences 2023 (1) https://doi.org/10.32473/edis-fy1517-2023
- Young, J., Bonnet, J.P. & Sokolof, J. (2022) Lifestyle Medicine: Physical Activity Supplement to The Journal of Family Practice 71(1) doi: 10.12788/jfp.0253
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] (2022). Behavioral Risk
Factor Surveillance System Survey Data. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018) Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition_Presentation.pdf
- American Heart Association (2024, January 5) Be More Active During Your Work Day https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/getting-active/how-to-be-more-active-at-work
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- Physical Activity: A Vital Piece in Holistic Health