National Healthy Weight Awareness Month:
January is Healthy Weight Month so get physical. Physical activity is proven to help with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.  The following article offers encouragement and suggestions on how and why it is important to be physical active and be physical fit.
Importance of Physical Fitness
The weather has cooled off and the holidays are over, so now it’s time to focus on our physical fitness. Physical activity is important for both a healthy mind and body for people of all ages.  Research has shown that moderate intensity on a regular basis increases your physical activity level and can improve health and well-being. However, when changing your level of activity, consult a health-care provider for individual considerations and/or restrictions. The following are some of the identified benefits of a regular exercise program:

  • Control Weight: Physical activity and diet are two important components in controlling your weight. To maintain weight, 150 minutes of moderated-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity is required per week.
  • Reduced risk for cardiovascular disease: Heart disease and stroke are the two leading causes of death in the United States. To reduce risk for this disease, a minimum of 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity is required.
  • Reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome: A minimum of 120 to 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity will lower rates of Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.
  • Reduced risk of some cancers: Physical activity reduces the risk of colon cancer and breast cancer.
  • Strengthened bones and muscles: A minimum of 120 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity that includes muscle-strengthening and weight bearing activities can help in preventing bone density loss.
  • Improve your mental health and mood: Aerobic and strengthening exercises for 30-60 minutes 3 to 5 times per week can assist in thinking, learning, and judgment skills.
  • Increase your chances of living longer: People who are physically active for about 7 hours a week have a 40 percent lower risk of dying than those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week. A minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity is required to reduce this risk.

The Warm-Up

Warm up exercises are a critical component in preparing to perform any sport or fitness training program. The purpose of the warm-up is to provide a safe muscle preparation by providing a dynamic muscle stretch. Dynamic stretching can be defined as a controlled motion gradually forcing body parts past its usual range of motion. Warm-ups are done for 10 to 15 minute and consist of light, physical, simulating activity and exercise.

Warm up exercises are contrary to the old myth of performing only static stretches prior to any exercise program. Static stretches can be defined by maintaining the position of the muscle while it is under tension causing the muscle to lengthen. Current research has shown that static stretches prior to an exercise program does not have any physiological benefits. Static stretches are shown to be more appropriate at the end of the workout program as part of the cool down, promoting maximum muscle range of motion of the involved muscle group. Cool down exercises should contain 5 to 10 minutes of easy exercise followed by 10 to 20 minutes of stretching.

Exercise Options

Now that you are warmed up and ready to go, what are some exercises that will promote the above health benefits?

  • Moderate Physical Activity: Activity in which respiration and heart rate is increased resulting in the ability to still carry on a conversation.
    • Walking briskly
    • Light yard work
    • Cycling at a casual pace
  • Vigorous Physical Activity: Activity in which respiration and heart rate is increased resulting in the inability to carry on a conversation.
    • Jogging/running
    • Swimming laps
    • Cross-country skiing
    • Most competitive sports

Implementing an Exercise Program.  Despite the proven benefits of physical activity, more than 50 percent of Americans do not get enough physical activity to provide health benefits. Roughly 25 percent of all adults are not active in their leisure time.

Do you more often fall in the 25 percent category of adults who are not active at all in their leisure time?? If so, it’s time to begin your new exercise program and lifestyle change. For the New Year, make a pledge to yourself and a commitment to physical activity. This will help you stay motivated and stay on track to reach your physical fitness goals for 2020.

Reference

1.     Physical Activity and Health. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everone/health/index.html.

2.     The Importance of Physical Activity CDC USA. Medical News Today. Retrieved from www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7180.php.

3.     Noltemeyer M. The Exercise Mistake You Make Before You Take a Single Step. Total Health Breakthroughs. March 16, 2010. Retrieved from http://www.totalhealthbreakthroughs.com/2010/03/the-exercise-mistake-you-make-before-you-take-a-single-step/.