The gyms must love this time of year, because of increased memberships. Those who frequent the gym may find the equipment they like to work out on in constant use. New Years resolutions have good intentions but my bet is the equipment will become more available sooner than later. I have no stats to back up my claim – just observation and hear-say. Exercise is encouraged since it is vital to help obtain and maintain overall health. It’s therefore important when starting out to know how much is enough versus overdoing it so you don’t cause injury and quickly grow discouraged .
The first step is to pick an exercise that you enjoy and willing to do on a regular basis versus dread. Not everyone loves the gym so consider walking, swimming, or bike riding. The point is that all adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits. The 2008 Physical Activity Guideline (www.health.gov/dietary guidelines) for adults 18-64 is:
- For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
- For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.
- Adults should also include muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
When I see someone having an extended conversation with the person next to them I know they are not getting the benefit they seek with the workout. The same goes with watching someone who is pushing themselves to the point of exhaustion and can barely take a deep breathe. The goal is to burn fat, but if you are under or over-exercising you are burning carbohydrates. The only thing this will do is create hunger at the end since your body wants to replace the immediate source of energy it just lost. My guideline is to evaluate your breathing. If you are able to carry on a full conversation without the need for a breathe after a few words you are under-exercising. On the other hand, if you cannot say any words in-between breathes you are over-exercising. A moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can’t sing the words to a song. A vigorous-intensity aerobic activity means you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breathe.
Think of the FITT principle as a set of rules that must be adhered to in order to benefit from any form of fitness training program. These rules relate to the Frequency, Intensity, Type and Time (FITT) of exercise… These four principles of fitness training are applicable to individuals exercising at low to moderate training levels and may be used to establish guidelines for both cardiorespiratory and resistance training. The FITT principle is used to guide the development of fitness plans that cater to an individual’s specific needs. The aerobic fitness goal using FITT for weight loss is Frequency of 4-5 x per week. Intensity of moderate to vigorous, and Time of 30-45 minutes per workout.
Exercise should be a way to train and improve athletic performance, and physical health, but not a means of purging calories. Make exercise a lifestyle change and not a temporary fix. If you decide to add exercise to you New Years resolution think first about your goal.
Signature Joanne Slyter, dietitian, Westminster, CO Interest in sports nutrition