Are you exercising enough?

With the Information Age, more and more people have sedentary jobs.  With increased responsibilities in life, many feel they have no time to exercise.  Because of this, many in the health industry have spent the last 10 to 15 years trying to get people to just start moving; doing something, ANYTHING!  While their intentions have been good, personally, I have never been a fan of this advice. I think it has made people lazy and unrealistic.  The industry professionals are also starting to change their tune realizing their advice was not so effective. 

What is this advice?  Simply telling people that exercise can be easy.  You have all heard it;  "just walk for a few minutes and thats enough", "take the stairs or park far away", "break it up, 10 minutes of walking here and there is good enough".  This advice is fine for an 80-year old woman you hasn’t exercised in 50 years, but for a 22-year old, healthy female taking the stairs at school and doing nothing else won’t do much for her health and it certainly won’t help her lose weight if she is overweight.

If walking for 30 minutes a day (broken up throughout the day) was all we needed, we would all be a size 6.  People walk all the time, broken up that is.  And many people take the stairs in their homes at least a dozen times a day and I have never seen someone lose weight when parking an extra 20 feet away from the store.  The truth is, to lose weight through exercise you actually have to exercise enough.  You have to dedicate a block of time during the day, almost every day, and work out hard enough so that you actually feel like you are exerting yourself.  You should sweat!  You should feel your heart rate increase.  You should feel like you are working, because you ARE working.   You are working your heart, lungs, and muscles so that they will remain/become healthy and strong.  You are working to decrease high blood pressure, to decrease resting heart rate so that your heart will last longer, you are working to burn excess fat tissue that is taxing on your heart.  You are working so that your body will gain more energy, endurance and peace.  And it should all feel like Work.

But remember, just like having a job you love, work can be fun, positively challenging and rewarding.  Pick exercises that invigorate you and leave you feeling good.  Cardiovascular exercise should be done for 30-60 minutes a day for healthy adults.

Workout in your target heart rate zone, monitor yourself (so that you don’t hurt yourself), and know your limits.   Depending on your current health status, age, weight and medical history, you may not be able to go all out when you exercise.  It is always good to stay current with your physical exams with your doctor and get the "thumbs-up" that exercise is not only OK for you, but more specifically what intensity, frequency and duration are good for you, too.

About Kimberly Dawson, M.S.

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