How the Last 2 Years Hurt Our Exercise Habits (and How to Get Them Back)

Healthy Exercise Habits Before 2020 came along and threw a wrench into everything, exercise habits were improving across the United States.  Programs encouraging people to get moving were making a difference, and physical activity levels were on the rise.  Then, it happened, and many of us all but stopped moving at all, according to recent CDC data.

Rebuilding Your Exercise Habits

Experts will tell you that rebuilding your exercise habits don’t necessarily mean that you need to throw yourself back into several hours of movement per day. Instead, committing to even small activities and workouts will start making a difference.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released data showing that you are far from alone in struggling to get your exercise habits back to pre-pandemic levels.  It even released a US inactivity map, showing that while all parts of the country were affected, some experienced it more than others.

The CDC has been tracking exercise habits and physical activity levels through its Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for decades. However, the latest report represents the first time it discussed flat-out “inactivity”.

We’ve Abandoned our Workouts

The CDC’s tracking showed that exercise habits fell in most places in the United States from 2019 to 2020.  Nebraska, Kansas and South Dakota broke the trend with a rise in activity during the initial wave of the pandemic. However, on the whole, it dropped, and it dropped hard. According to data from UC San Francisco, this trend isn’t just happening here. The entire world has become less physically active.

Rethinking Exercise Habits and Goals

Because of the spiking inactivity numbers, the CDC has been adjusting the way it expresses goals for exercise habits.  The main target Americans have long been told to aim for is about a half hour of moderate physical activity, five days per week, for a total of about 150 minutes per week. However, at this point, the CDC views increasing physical activity in any way as a great place to start.  Moving from inactivity to being active again is key, no matter what form it happens to take.

Getting Active Again

What does this mean for you? If you’re among the rare few that kept up their exercise habits for the last two years, then give yourself a pat on the back and keep doing what you’re doing.  If you’re like the vast majority of people not only in the US but in the world that saw their activity levels plummet, it’s time to set some fresh goals.

Ideally, yes, that 150 minutes of moderate level activity per week would be ideal but getting started with anything at all is your starting point.

Even if you start your day with 5 minutes of your favorite yoga moves, walk to the mailbox instead of stopping there in your car on the way home, or lift some hand weights during an ad break while you watch a video on YouTube, starting with movement is key.  From there, you can build as you will.  The main thing is to begin movement in any form.

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