Activity

Onduo is here to help you find ways to add more exercise and activity to your life. Benefits include weight loss, improved mood, and stronger muscles!

Why outdoor exercise can’t be beat

If you’ve ever thought that exercising outdoors simply feels better, you’re not wrong. Research shows that getting your sweat on outside has extra benefits beyond those seen with an indoor workout. And the exposure to sunlight is just the beginning.

In many ways, we can thank the pandemic for reminding us how good it can feel to move our bodies outdoors. Nature became our gym over the last year, and a mighty fine one at that. In fact, to keep the trend going, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently kicked off a campaign called Moving Together Outside to push for even more access to outdoor public spaces.

What do they know that everyone else should? Read on to find out about the unique benefits that outdoor activity can offer.

  • It relieves brain fatigue. A Scottish study found that simply walking through a green space such as a park—even in the middle of a busy city—can lessen mental fatigue, reduce frustration, and calm the mind.

  • Working out can be easier. With changing terrain and plenty of things to look at, outdoor activity tends to have pleasing distractions that take your mind off of whether you feel tired. The result? You can often exercise for longer.

  • Less stress and more relaxation. Numerous studies have found that being in nature—or “forest bathing”—can combat stress and boost relaxation. For people with diabetes, it has even been shown to lower blood glucose levels.

  • More vitamin D for immunity. Exposure to sunlight enhances our body’s production of vitamin D, which plays an important role in supporting our immune system and reducing inflammation in the body.

  • It stimulates all 5 senses. Unlike exercising in a walled-in room, the outdoors offers an array of colors, sounds, smells, sensations, and even sometimes tastes. Breathe in the fresh air, listen to the wind, and marvel at the beauty.

  • Better self-esteem and mood. A British study that looked at several types of green spaces found that spending time in all of them improved the self-esteem and moods of both men and women of all ages.

5 great new reasons to stay active

Need some motivation for being physically active? Or even doubling down on your goals? Well, you now have more reasons than ever.

Periodically, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) updates their Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. In the most recent edition, they highlighted 5 newly identified benefits of regular physical activity. That brings the total number of scientifically-backed “strong or moderate” health benefits listed in the guidelines to 20...and counting!

Find out about the latest research and how the evidence for physical activity as a driver of health only continues to grow.

Newly identified benefits of physical activity

Research has consistently shown that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes, and that additional benefits occur the more you exercise. Below are the most recent “moderate to strong.” benefits to officially be added by HHS.

For everyone

  • Brain health benefits, including possible improved cognitive function, reduced anxiety and depression risk, and improved sleep and quality of life
  • Lower risk of cancer at a greater number of sites than previously known

For pregnant women

  • Reduced risk of excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes, and postpartum depression

For people with various chronic conditions

  • Lower risk of all-cause and disease-specific mortality, improved physical function, and improved quality of life

For older adults

  • Reduced risk of fall-related injuries

Looking for ways to up your physical activity and reap these benefits? Find ideas in our Activity and Exercise section.

Cardio ideas for all body types

it’s still a great time to start new habits. Perhaps you’ve been focusing on eating better or getting enough sleep. But how are you doing on the activity front? Have you found a form of cardio to get you through the heart of winter? If not, we’ve got you covered with our latest tips.

Fire up your heart rate with these favorite activities!

  • Try old school calisthenics. Don’t like fancy equipment or guided workouts? Create your own routine simply by doing reps of classic moves, such as jumping jacks, walking lunges, push-ups, squats, or sit-ups. You choose!
  • Kick butt with kickboxing. Work out your frustration and gain confidence at the same time. A punching bag isn’t always necessary, just a fighting spirit. Kickboxing also lets you progress at your own pace and modify as needed.
  • Bring your bike inside. If you love bicycling—a low-impact exercise that’s gentle on the joints—consider turning your bike into a stationary ride for the winter. This can be done with either a bike trainer or a roller bike stand.
  • Walk to your own beat. Similarly, if walking is your thing, there are also some winter sub-ins. For example, try marching in place or doing things like high knees, butt kicks, stepping side to side, or going up and down stairs.
  • Hit the dance floor. Figuratively speaking, that is. Dancing queens and kings may find it easiest to get their cardio from a booty-shaking workout. Discover the many types on YouTube—from hip hop to Latin dance to Bollywood.
  • See how far you’ve come. Stay motivated by logging your cardio activities in the Onduo app. Plus, if you carry your smartphone with you, the app will automatically count your daily steps.

Move and groove with our cardio playlists!

Woman in snow square

6 ways to keep moving in the winter

Yes, the weather outside may be frightful. But that’s no reason to let your exercise goals fall to the wayside—especially when we all need the physical and mental benefits more than ever.

Here are some ways to keep moving, even when the days are short and the temperature won’t stop dropping.

  • Embrace the snow. Live somewhere frosty? Try out snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, both of which burn major calories. Even just playing in the snow—not to mention shoveling it—gets the heart pumping.
  • Vary your workouts. Don’t despair if the gym’s closed. There’s no shortage of things you can do at home, from workout videos to YouTube fitness channels to exercise apps. Rotate through several to keep things fresh.
  • Get outside at lunch. Boost your mood and immunity with a midday walk. If you bundle up in layers, you may find that the colder air is not only invigorating, but you can also walk longer than if it were hot and humid.
  • Dance your heart out. Turn up the volume for 5 favorite songs, bust out some moves, and guess what—you’ve just gotten in 15 minutes of fun cardio. For more intensity, do jumping jacks or butt kicks during the chorus.
  • Wear exercise clothes. If you’re working remotely, here’s a great mental trick: put on workout or walking gear in the morning, and it’ll help ensure that you exercise. If you don’t, you’ll feel pretty sheepish at the end of the day.
  • Rethink your desk. Are you sitting all day? Consider putting a standing desk, treadmill desk, or bike desk on your wishlist. With TheFitDesk, you can even get a compact bike or elliptical that goes under your current desk.
Healthcare

The benefits of cardio

When you think of cardio, jogging may immediately come to mind. But cardio—short for cardiovascular training—is essentially any activity that increases your breathing and heart rate. For example, walking/hiking, bicycling, swimming, water aerobics, rowing, kickboxing, and jumping rope are all forms of cardio.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio exercise per week to improve your quality of life. That’s roughly 30 minutes 5 days a week, and the idea is not only to bring up your cardio fitness level, but also lower your health risks.

Here’s just a sampling of what regular cardio can do:

  • Burn calories and help control your appetite
  • Strengthen your heart as well as your muscles
  • Enhance your mood, thanks to the release of feel-good chemicals
  • Increase your stamina and endurance, so you don’t tire as quickly
  • Reduce arthritis pain and stiffness through joint movement
  • Improve your brain’s ability to reason, plan, and problem solve
  • Help prevent or manage high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes

Getting started with cardio is as simple as picking a favorite activity that gets your heart rate going and gradually increasing how long and how intensely you do it. How do you know when you’ve reached a “moderate” cardio level? Think of it as a 6 or 7 on a scale of 10. If you’re breathing fast and working hard, you’re on the right track!


Man plays basketball with young son

5 tips for getting moving

Some things don’t change, like the way exercise can help with your glucose control (and your sense of accomplishment). Here are some great ways to fit it in right now:

Rethink your old commute time. Pre-pandemic, did you spend time commuting every morning and evening? Why not use those slots for a head-clearing walk to start and end your workday?

Find virtual exercise buddies. Use video platforms to connect with friends and work out together. Not only does it make you accountable, but you can get in some catch-up time too.

Set a timer to get up and move. Program your phone or watch to prompt you to do things like jumping jacks, push-ups, or going up and down stairs.

Go online with your favorite trainers. Many are now offering virtual workouts that you can do from home with little or no equipment. Check social media for details.

Head outside for some fresh air. When you’re going stir-crazy, nothing feels better than a hike, jog, or bike ride. Note your state’s orders, wear a mask if around others, and keep up your social distancing.

Two women walking and laughing resized

6 easy ways to take more steps

You’ve probably heard about taking the stairs or parking at the far end of the lot. Once you’ve worked those in, what else can you try? Note your state’s orders, wear a mask if around others, and keep up your social distancing. Here are some ideas:

  • Turn any wait into a walk. Will it be 20 minutes before your outdoor table is ready? Walk around to pass the time.
  • Get moving during your TV time. Take advantage of commercial breaks—circle the sofa or go up and down the stairs until your show returns. Or keep that heart rate up and march in place while you watch.
  • Use the buddy system. Whether walking with a friend, your significant other, or your dog, it’s good to have someone who’s counting on you. Schedule a regular “date walk” with your favorite humans or four-legged friends.
  • Let us count your steps. Did you know the Onduo app will track your steps if you take your phone? Measuring—and then slowly upping—your steps can help you stay motivated, set and achieve goals, and learn about your body.
  • Change up the scenery. If you’re tired of your neighborhood, check out some new terrain, like a school track, a nearby park, or a nature trail. Or pretend you’re a tourist and take a tour of your town.
  • Create challenges. While you’re walking, try speeding up when you hit shady spots and slowing down in sunny stretches. It’s a fun way to push the pace and get your heart pumping. Get creative and make your own challenges!

Note: Before starting a new activity, consider talking to your healthcare provider to learn how much activity is right for you.