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“Regular physical activity is so powerful in maintaining and improving health that it should be prescribed just as medicine is.” –Robert Sallis, MD, ACSM, Exercise Is Medicine Task Force
You can discover a sense of what is truly important in your life when you analyze how you spend your time. We each have seven days a week, 24 hours per day. If you exclude eight hours of quality sleep each night (another significant health problem in today’s society besides lack of exercise) and eight working hours for most of us, that leaves eight hours of discretionary time per day, for a total 56 hours a week. Although it’s an oversimplification to say those hours are completely discretionary, you do have some say in what you do with this time.
So, what is important to you? Your family? Your job and financial security? Your online time? Your hobbies (which may include more sedentary time on the computer or TV)? Where does your health fit in?
Two Behaviors that Most Affect Your Health
Without good health, your other priorities will suffer. Medical experts agree that you can do more to positively impact every component of your health with 30- 60 minutes of daily exercise than anything else.
Health behavior professionals have observed two primary daily (hour by hour) health behaviors that influence our present and long-term health:
- How we choose to move
- What we choose to eat
Many people say they don’t have time to exercise. I would suggest that you don’t have time NOT to. As 2014 quickly approaches, I encourage you to evaluate how you spend your time and figure out how to include exercise.
Four Basics You Need in the New Year
Now matter how you slice it, there are four “basics” that every person needs in order to achieve an optimal fitness level and quality of life. Find a way to include them in your “56 hours.” (Talk to your physician before starting a new exercise regimen.)
Cardiovascular exercise: The American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine recommend 30 minutes of moderate-to-intense cardiovascular exercise 3-5 times per week. Examples: walking, bicycling, stair climbing, elipitical machine, rowing and swimming.
Strength exercise: Here I am talking about 15- 20 minutes of 8-10 strength exercises (using all major muscle groups and performing 8-12 repetitions in 2-3 sets). Do this type of exercise 2-3 times weekly, leaving one day off for full muscle recovery. Cardiovascular exercises may be performed daily because they do not create the muscular stress that strength exercises do. Examples: bench press/push-ups, weighted squats with dumbbells held in hands, overhead press with dumbbells, pull-ups and modified sit-ups.
Core exercise: A new emphasis, as well as a new variety of exercises, has been placed on “core” strength. These should be done for 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times weekly. Core muscles encompass all the muscles of the trunk and abdominals, including gluteals and hips. Pilates, yoga and many of the boot-camp type classes teach core exercises like planks of many varieties, the use of gym balls and medicine balls for targeting core muscles, and traditional calisthenics like squat thrusts.
Muscular flexibility: Stretching and flexibility exercises help maintain and increase joint/muscle range of motion and may help prevent exercise or work related sprains/strains. Performing floor and/or standing stretches for all major muscle groups at each exercise session 2-3 times for a minimum of 30 seconds each time.
Do you want to act on your New Year’s resolution to include more time for fitness but aren’t sure where to start? Contact Mercy Health & Fitness or Mercy Sports Medicine in North Canton, Ohio, for assistance. Our personal trainers are experts at helping non-traditional exercisers begin a journey toward better health.
About The Author
Dave Faur, MS, is the program coordinator for Mercy Health & Fitness Program in North Canton, Ohio.