Leisure-time physical activity is generally considered any exercise, sports or recreational activity that is not job related, is not a household chore and is not fulfilling a regular transportation need. This study provides fresh evidence that leisure-time physical activity can positively impact heart health and longevity.
The research, part of the Brisighella Heart Study, was published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine (2012; 13  559–64) and looked at 2,936 individuals and their leisure-time activity levels from 1988 to 2000. Results showed that cardiovascular mortality was three times higher in subjects who were sedentary during leisure time than it was in those with medium-intensity physical activity levels. “On the basis of our data, [leisure-time] physical activity is inversely related to cardiovascular mortality in a sample of the rural Mediterranean population, with a highest risk in inactive men aged less than 65 years.”
In honor of American Heart Month (February), we asked IDEA members to weigh in on how they help their clients increase leisure activity.
- Encourage clients in what they like to do, urges LaRue Cook, MHA, JD, a personal trainer in Alexandria, Virginia. “People do things that interest them. No amount of coaching, cajoling or convincing will get someone to do something in their leisure time that they are not interested in.”
- Suggest that clients use a step counter for motivation, says Karin Singleton, a health coach and personal trainer in Raleigh, North Carolina. “[The effects of] parking the car farther away and taking stairs do indeed add up. And while most of my clients are not the athletic kind, they are still competitive with themselves.”
- “Think outside the box when using a ball, Frisbee®, jump rope, etc.,” advises Natalie Smith, a personal trainer and group fitness instructor in Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania. “Try group and partner drills, races, obstacle courses or a scavenger hunt.”
- Take an interest in your clients’ activities, says Nicole Boehm, who teaches group fitness and Pilates in Lake Zurich, Illinois. “I encourage clients to tell us about the events they’re doing. Examples include a marathon, a breast cancer walk, or maybe a 2-mile walk to support dog adoptions.”
- “Tell clients to walk instead of driving if they can: Take the dog for a long walk. Use a self-propelled mower when cutting the grass. Shovel snow manually,” says Harris Sophocleous, a strength and conditioning specialist in Madison, Wisconsin.