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Rich Weil, MEd, CDE: Fall Into Fitness

How to get up and moving


If you don't take your heart rate, simply ask yourself how hard does the work feel? If you feel out of breath and sweaty, that's what counts, and as a result your aerobic fitness and your stamina and your endurance and your energy and your general health will improve.

In addition, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends two days per week of weight lifting. Now, that's new for them to recommend, and it's important that they have recommended it because it speaks to how important building muscle and strength is. The ACSM recommends two days per week lifting, eight to 10 exercises for all the major muscle groups, and you lift 8 to 12 repetitions. The major muscle groups are your chest, back, shoulders, arms, abdominal muscles, and legs.

So the complete guideline from the ACSM is three to five days per week for 20 to 60 minutes of aerobic conditioning, and two days of weight lifting.

That's more formal exercise, but then the Surgeon General has a different guideline: Accumulate 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on five or more days of the week. There are two key words/phrases in the Surgeon General's recommendation. Number one is accumulate, which means you can do 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes later on in the afternoon, and 10 minutes in the evening, or you could do two bouts of 15 minutes, or one bout of 30. The second key is moderate intensity, which means that you feel warm and slightly out of breath when you're doing the activity.

The Surgeon General's recommendation is a lifestyle intervention, recognizing that people have time constraints and are frequently resistant to the ACSM guidelines. The Surgeon General's guidelines offer people alternatives to formal exercise and they can still get healthier and improve their fitness.

Lifestyle activities could include:

  • Climbing the stairs more
  • Raking your own leaves instead of calling the kid down the street to do it for you (use a rake instead of a leaf blower)
  • Mowing the lawn with a push mower
  • Washing the car by hand (I remember as a kid washing the car by hand with my family and how much fun that was)

We need to start to think about ways in our life that we can be physically active again. The environment is such that labor saving devices do all of the work for us, so get rid of the robo mower and start doing some of these physical activities.

Also, park the car farther from the store or your office and walk more.

How many times do people pull into a parking lot at the mall and drive around for five to ten minutes looking for a space closest to the store? Instead, park as far away and start to work on accumulating those 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity.

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