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Staying Fit: Rich Weil, MEd, CDE

Make the most of your fitness activities
By
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature

So many exercise choices, so little time. Where do you begin? Whatever your goal -- cardiovascular, muscle building, or weight loss -- WebMD Weight Loss Clinic's own exercise physiologist, Rich Weil, MEd, CDE, discussed how to get started and make the most of your fitness activities.

The opinions expressed herein are the guest's alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome back to WebMD Live, Rich. Do you agree that Americans have made fitness into a "to-do" item, like going to the dentist or paying bills? Everyone I know says they "have to" or "need to" get in shape. Nobody seems to "want to" get fit. 

Weil: That's interesting. The research shows that slightly more people are exercising today than they were 10 years ago, but not very many more. In fact, still less than 40% of the people exercise regularly. In terms of "have to" and "supposed to" what the research shows that when people feel they have to, they tend to do it less. So it seems, although exercise and fitness is very popular, we're still not at the place where people have incorporated it into their lives so that it is like brushing their teeth. We'd like to move toward that goal and over time, I suspect that more people will.

It's important to understand that physical activity and exercise is a behavior change, and the best way to change your behavior is to practice changing your behavior. In terms of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle, what we'd like people to do is incorporate physical activity into their lives, and the psychologists will tell you that as you repeat a behavior enough times, it does start to become more second nature.

Moderator: Do you think one key to incorporating fitness into your life is trying things like participation in team sports or even gardening clubs or something like that, instead of buying gym memberships or home gyms, so fitness becomes more like a lifestyle/social thing?

Weil: There is a trend towards more support and activities that people do together. Gardening, for instance is either the second or third most popular physical activity in the country. Some of those people may join garden clubs, and research shows that having a partner or a group does increase adherence to physical activity. It's not true for everyone, but some people will do better with the support of other people.

As far as sports and athletics, we would like people to take some of the focus off of simply formal exercise and go ahead and select activities that they enjoy or that they're good at, or even would like to learn how to do. For instance, some people would really like to learn how to swim. What we do now is encourage them to take lessons to learn how to swim. We have been encouraging people to take ballroom or any type of dancing to help them enjoy the activity, and look forward to it.

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