Staying Fit: Rich Weil, MEd, CDE
Make the most of your fitness activities
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.
In addition, if people do start to participate in more sports-related types of activities, they may decide to do more formal exercise or workouts to enhance their performance in the activity that they have selected. For instance, if you decide to play tennis or racquetball, you may find that working out will improve your performance with that activity. So by combining a physical activity or sport you enjoy or have always had a desire to try, people may find that they can then enhance the performance with more formal workouts.
Member question: What is the best regimen to follow for getting stronger?
Weil: Resistance exercise, where muscles contract against any external resistance or force, will help the muscles get stronger. So you can lift dumbbells or rubber tubing or even your own body weight, like a pushup or other calisthenics, and if the muscles are forced to contract, they will respond by getting stronger.
The guidelines for resistance exercise are written by the American College of Sports Medicine and they are to start with at least two days of any type of resistance exercise doing 8 to 10 different exercises and doing 8 to 12 repetitions. A repetition is how many times you lift the weight or pull the rubber tubing or move your body. So that might be 8 to 10 biceps curls or 8 to 10 pushups.