January 24, 2005
today [January 12, 2005] urged most Americans to eat fewer calories
and exercise 30 to 90 minutes a day, updating guidelines that
advised people to lose weight but gave few specifics on how to
do it. ... The panel recommended a minimum of at least 30 minutes
of moderate exercise -- brisk walking or gardening -- on most
days. But it said many adults need to exercise for 60 minutes
or more to prevent weight gain, and people who have lost weight
may need to exercise for 60 to 90 minutes to keep it off."
Think about the people
you know. Think about yourself. How many people do you think are
spending 60 - 90 (or even 30) minutes exercising each day?
In August of 2003,
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, believing
earlier studies failed to accurately measure Americans' fitness
because they focused on intense exercise, has lumped everyday
activities such as housework and gardening with jogging and lifting
weights. But even with playing with children and raking the lawn
on the list of moderate-intensity activities, the 2001 phone survey
released Thursday showed that 55 percent of adults still didn't
get the recommended minimum: 30 minutes a day, at least four days
Most people aren't getting
the exercise they need. We have work, school, time with friends,
and more; so, what are most people doing with their free time?
"Watching TV was
the leisure activity that occupied the most time, accounting for
about half of leisure time on average for both men and women....
Persons ages 15 to 24 averaged 5.5 hours of leisure time per day
... Persons ages 25 to 54 spent less time doing leisure activities
but still recorded more than 4 hours per day.... Younger persons
spent a relatively larger share of their time socializing, playing
sports, and playing games or using a computer for leisure."
Playing sports does count
as exercise, but time spent watching TV, sitting at the computer,
or talking to friends does not tend to be time when a great deal
of physical activity is done. So how do you take the time to exercise
without missing out on all the other stuff you want to do?
"Make exercise a
part of your daily schedule...
* Choose activities that you enjoy
* Have your friends as well as your family get involved with you
* Encourage your family to exercise together
* Balance your daily activities so you always get a healthy amount
* Have fun! Exercise doesn't have to feel like work....
* Many household activities like walking the dog, gardening or
cleaning can be good forms of exercise."
Do you like to multitask?
How can you make exercise one of your "tasks"?
"Go for a walk in
your lunch break. ... Go for walks with friends to talk about
your studies. Brainstorming about an essay as you walk around
the campus can be a productive use of your time...."
Are you too stressed
by all you have to work into your schedule as it is? Is the thought
of trying to add one more thing just too overwhelming?
activity helps you feel better because it:
* lowers your stress and boosts your mood
* increases your strength
* helps control blood pressure and blood sugar
* helps build healthy bones, muscles, and joints
* helps your heart and lungs work better
* improves your self-esteem."
There are benefits now.
There are benefits for the future. There are reasons to go above
and beyond; there are also cautions to keep in mind when creating
a workout plan.
"To reduce the risk
of chronic disease in adulthood: Engage in at least 30 minutes
of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity,
at work or home on most days of the week.
* For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by
engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or longer
* ...Some people may need to consult with a healthcare provider
before participating in this level of activity.
* Achieve physical fitness by including cardiovascular conditioning,
stretching exercises for flexibility, and resistance exercises
or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance."
As many in the country
are digging out from a recent January snowstorm, other forms of
exercise are brought to mind. Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating,
and -- for those who live in snow country -- shoveling are all
seasonal forms of exercise that can help get people out of the
house on those cold winter days.
As with anything, a balance
must be found:
[sic], such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car, or walking
in deep snow. The strain from the cold and the hard labor may
cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to chill and hypothermia."
This does not mean that
you should not exert yourself; just be careful of overexertion
(more likely for those who are older, in poor health, or out of
shape). If you have neighbors (or parents) who really shouldn't
be out shoveling the heavy snow, offer to do it for them. You
get your exercise, and you get to help protect the health of someone
else. Even if you are in good health, there are still reasons
to be cautious when attempting to exercise in the cold weather.
"Wind Chill is the
term used to describe the rate of heat loss on the human body
resulting from the combined effect of low temperature and wind.
As winds increase, heat is carried away from the body at a faster
rate, driving down both the skin temperature and eventually the
internal body temperature.... As with other winter weather events,
advisories are issued when the wind chill is more of a nuisance
rather than life-threatening. While the warnings are issued when
the wind chill can be life-threatening if an individual is not
properly dressed for the cold."
Even if you don't live
where snow and wind chill are issues, you may have other seasonal
concerns to think about at other times throughout the year. Maybe
you are one who lives in a part of the country that experiences
both dangerously high and dangerously low temperatures. Either
way, the weather can certainly affect an exercise routine.
"Our bodies dissipate
heat by varying the rate and depth of blood circulation, by losing
water through the skin and sweat glands, and as a last resort,
by panting, when blood is heated above 98.6°F. Sweating cools
the body through evaporation. However, high relative humidity
retards evaporation, robbing the body of its ability to cool itself.
When heat gain exceeds the level the body can remove, body temperature
begins to rise, and heat related illnesses and disorders may develop.
With all that said, it
is important to remember:
be fun, because the more you enjoy it the more likely you are
to do it regularly. So find activities you like and make them
a part of your routine. ... Getting the exercise you need is easier
than you might think. There are plenty of ways to add a little
extra activity to your everyday routine. For instance:
* Bike or walk to class, the library, or the store.
* Park farther away than you normally would and walk.
* Choose the dining hall on the far side of campus.
* Try stretching, marching in place, or walking around during
* Take the stairs."
Those in North Dakota
may not be able to bike to class for the next couple months, and
those in Arizona may not be looking forward to walking to the
store in August. Wherever you are, you need to find the way to
get exercise that is right for you: your climate, your needs,
and your lifestyle.
Questions of the Week:
How can you figure out how much (and what kind of) exercise you
currently need? How is this different for different people? What
changes will you need to make to your current lifestyle to get
the exercise you need? How could you arrange to get 60 - 90 minutes
of exercise each day? What external influences (weather, work,
school) will you need to work around? How do you need to change
your exercise routine for the different seasons and for different
schedules you might have at different times of year? How can you
find the time and/or the place to exercise safely and effectively?
In what ways can exercise be something that you do as you are
"multitasking"? In what ways is it not?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum