4 Steps to Get Active Using the FITT Principle

Get Active using the FITT Principle

Several years ago I was working as a fitness coordinator. And I loved it! I told my mom, “I get to meet tons of really fun people. I teach fitness classes and they pay me to work out.” Mom responded, “Yea, they’d have to pay me to work out too!”

I’m sure you could hear the eyeball roll as I tried, in vain, to explain that this was truly a fun job. I realize that there are a lot of people who think like my mom. The only way to be healthy is to EXERCISE. Treadmills are so boring and I’m not coordinated enough to be in a fitness class. Our bodies are wonderful in that they give us credit for any movement we do. So our “workout” can be any physical activity, not just running on a treadmill, but there still seems to be so many questions.

Here are four steps to get active using the FITT Principle.

Frequency - How often should I be physically active?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggest we should be active most days of the week.  If the last time you tried this exercise stuff was when Ronald Reagan was in office, then try for 3-5 days a week.

Intensity - How intense (how hard) should I be physically active?

The CDC says moderate to vigorous activities, but what is that exactly?  I have several activities below listed from less vigorous to more vigorous just to give you an idea of how intense to get active.

Time - How long should I be doing this?

Experts all say accumulate 150 minutes a week.  Please remember two words here:  accumulate and week.   To make that more manageable, that’s 30 minutes, five days a week.  And, you can accumulate 30 minutes on those days.

Here’s an example:

You can walk your dog in the morning for 10 minutes before you go to work.

Later, take a ten minute walk at lunch.

Finally, the dog will probably need another ten minute walk when you get home.

There, 30 minutes done in three short bouts.

Type - What type of activity should I be doing?

Anything you like.  You don’t have to do P90X or run marathons.  Go for a walk, work in your garden, or ride a bike.

The list of activity types below also shows you that intensity and time are linked.  Shoveling snow and playing tennis are pretty intense activities so a little less time.  Taking a walk or washing your car are a little less intense, so spend a little more time on those activities.  Try some of these ideas.  If your favorite activities aren’t on there, no worries. Still get up and move your body.  Get active.

Examples of Moderate Amounts of Exercise (From Least to Most Vigorous)

  • Washing and waxing a car for 45-60 minutes
  • Washing windows or floors for 45-60 minutes
  • Playing volleyball for 45 minutes
  • Playing touch football for 30-45 minutes
  • Gardening for 30-45 minutes
  • Wheeling self in wheelchair for 30-40 minutes
  • Tennis doubles for 30 minutes
  • Walking 1 3/4 miles in 35 minutes (20 min/mile)
  • Basketball (shooting baskets) for 30 minutes
  • Bicycling 5 miles in 30 minutes
  • Dancing fast (social) for 30 minutes
  • Pushing a stroller 1 1/2 miles in 30 minutes
  • Raking leaves for 30 minutes
  • Walking 2 miles in 30 minutes (15 min/mile)
  • Water aerobics for 30 minutes
  • Swimming laps for 20 minutes
  • Wheelchair basketball for 20 minutes
  • Basketball (playing a game) for 15-20 minutes
  • Tennis singles for 15 minutes
  • Bicycling (10 mph or faster) for 15 minutes
  • Jumping rope for 15 minutes
  • Heavy gardening (continuous digging or hoeing) for 15 minutes
  • Running 1 1/2 miles in 15 minutes (10 min/mile)
  • Shoveling snow for 15 minutes
  • Stair walking for 15 minutes

You don’t have to be a slave to a treadmill to be healthy.  Our bodies are meant to move and The FITT Principle is a template to get you started. Get moving and have fun!