According to the most recent government survey conducted by the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, Americans need to exercise at least an hour a day. This nearly doubles the previous recommendation.The study was published in a 1,000-page report that came out just a couple weeks ago.

For many people, this will mean a significant change in lifestyle in order to accommodate the additional exercise. Rather than focus on the various exercises you could do, or the little changes you can make in order to fit this seemingly undoable amount into your day, I'm going to talk to you about changing your way of thinking about exercise.

Exercise should be thought of as a way of life, or a lifestyle. It shouldn't be approached as something that you are going to do for a given period of time and then stop once you've reached your destination. It is something that is ongoing, changing, and growing. Once exercise becomes stagnant, you will stop doing it. It is important to make it fun. That may mean going to a gym for some, or joining a running club for others. Some people enjoy exercise more if they are doing it with a friend or loved one, and some people prefer to do it alone. I guess what I am suggesting is to first dedicate some thought to it and identify your strengths and weaknesses pertaining to exercise. Analyze who you are and what aspects will intrigue you to exercise on a regular basis.

Some of the more unconventional methods include in-line skate clubs, dog walking groups, the Sierra Club, martial arts studios, and bike clubs to name a few. With such diversity available now, there is no reason why everyone can't find at least one thing that is both healthy as well as interesting.

Like anything worth doing, you should first start with a plan and then progress from there. I, myself, have a certain core group of activities I plan to always do, and that so far they have continued to stimulate me because they can be so different each time. Bodybuilding and martial arts are two of them, but I also enjoy other activities that are either more seasonal like skiing, snowboarding, and surfing (the latter I am just learning), in addition to some sports that are just too expensive for me to do frequently, like scuba diving.

Freedom has always played an important role in my life, and although I am very disciplined during the week as far as bodybuilding, cardiovascular conditioning, and martial arts, I allow myself much more freedom on weekends because I have more time then. I really enjoy hiking and mountain biking on Saturdays or Sundays. Weekends also allow time for more of a commute to and from a preferred destination. One of my favorite things to do is get my friends together on a Sunday morning and go hiking up in the Laguna Mountains with my dog, followed by brunch. It's the perfect combination-I get to spend quality time with my friends, and both myself as well as my dog gets a workout in the process. That just can't be beat!

So give exercise a fair shake before you jump to the conclusion that the new standard can't be done. From my own experience, I can honestly say that I love fitness and the feeling it gives me. It is definitely a lifestyle, and I can't imagine my life without it!

Author's Bio: 

Melissa Allen, Optimum Condition. Melissa is a certified personal trainer, Blackbelt & fitness consultant. As a self-syndicated columnist welcoming input from her readers, please contact her with any questions or comments by visiting her website at