Exercise and Activity

Personal Exercise Log

It is perfectly normal to have a lot of questions when beginning an exercise program. What is the best activity to participate in? How do I get the most out of exercising? How long should I exercise? Often, the hardest part of getting into shape is taking the first step. Here are some simple steps to help you begin your journey.

Basic Tips for Appropriate Physical Activities
What is physical Activity?
Physical activity is defined as any form of exercise or movement.  Physical activity may include a planned activity such as walking, running, playing basketball, or other sports.  Physical activity may also include other daily activities such as household chores, yard work, waling your dog, etc.  It is recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes and children get at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.  Moderate physical activity is any activity that requires about as much energy as walking two miles in 30 minutes.

What are some benefits of daily physical activity?
1.  Reduces the risk of heart disease by improving blood circulation throughout the body.
2.  Keeps your weight under control.
3.  Improves blood cholesterol levels.
4.  Prevents and manages high blood pressure.
5.  Prevents bone loss.
6.  Boosts energy levels.
7.  Counters anxiety and depression and increases enthusiasm and optimism.
8.  Improves the ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well.
9.  Improves self-image
10.Increases muscle strength, improving the ability to do other physical activities.
11.Provides a way to share activities with family and friends.
12.Establishes good heart-healthy habits in children and counter conditions (obesity, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, and poor lifestyle habits)
13.In older people, helps delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging and maintains quality of life and independence.

How can I track my eating habits?
Eating habits and the types of foods that we consume are often overlooked.  By keeping a Daily food log, individuals can track their food consumption and have a better grasp of the things they eat.

How can I track my exercise routine?
Many of us exercise when we feel that we have the time to exercise.  However, we often find "excuses" to avoid exercising regularly.  By keeping a Personal exercise log, you will be able to monitor the amount of physical activity you practice each week and this should help with your exercise routine.

Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise increases the health and function of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. For maximum effectiveness, aerobic exercise needs to be rhythmic, continuous (at least 20-30 minutes in duration) and involve the large muscle groups. Walking, jogging, cycling, and stair climbing are examples of activities that use large muscle groups. Activities combining upper and lower body movements such as cross-country skiing, rowing, and swimming can lead to even higher levels of aerobic capacity.

Strength Training
Strength training is the process of exercising with progressively heavier resistance to build or retain muscle. Unless you perform regular strength exercise, you will start to lose muscle every year of life after age 25. Muscle is a very active tissue with high energy requirements. Even when you are asleep, your muscles burn calories. An increase in muscle tissue increases the number of calories your body will burn, even at rest.

Flexibility
Flexibility is a critical element of exercise but it is often overlooked. Stretching is important for a number of reasons; it increases physical performance, decreases risk of injury, increases blood supply and nutrients to the joints, increases neuromuscular coordination, reduces soreness, improves balance, decreases risk of low back pain, and reduces stress in muscles.

Choosing an Exercise
The best exercise is an activity that you enjoy enough to really pursue enthusiastically. Experiment with different forms of activity (cross training). Alternating new activities with old favorites will keep your enthusiasm high. Cross training also helps avoid injury due to repeatedly doing the same activity. Here are some suggestions

Indoor (Facility) Activities. If the treadmill, stairmaster, rowing machine or stationery cycle doesn't excite you, sample some group activities that strike your fancy. Participate in a spin class, pilates, core conditioning class, body sculpting, or circuit training class, all available at MSU.

Outdoor Activities. Outdoor activities abound during all four seasons. Sample the variety of activities available to you. For example, join a recreational sports team or make your own with a group of friends, or enroll in an MSU outdoor activities class. Getting outdoors into the fresh air not only adds variety to your exercise program but it provides an uplifting feeling as well.

Determining Your Starting Point
To achieve cardiovascular benefits, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends exercising at moderate intensity 7 days per week week (frequency) with a training heart rate of 60-85 percent of your maximum (intensity) for 20-60 minutes (time). Another option is to do vigorous intensity (i.e. 85 percent or more of your maximum) 2-3 days per week for 15-20 minutes.

To attain muscular fitness benefits, the ACSM recommends weight training two days per week (frequency), performing one to three sets of 10 repetitions (time) of eight to ten different exercises at approximately 70-85 percent of your one repetition maximum (intensity.)

If you're just beginning an exercise program, start in the low range of the above recommendations. For example, participate in a cardiovascular activity (walking, aerobics, cycling, etc.) for 20 minutes, three times a week and add strength training exercises to your workout, twice a week. Schedule your strength training workouts with 48 hours rest in between to allow your muscles to recuperate and repair after each workout.

Begin Slowly and Gradually Build
Unfamiliarity with movements and equipment can prove frustrating enough that you may consider throwing in the towel. Take heart, it's normal to feel awkward in the beginning, especially if you have undertaken an activity that you aren't familiar with. It doesn't take long for your skill to improve if you stick with it. After all, even fitness instructors were once beginners!

If you attempt "too much, too soon" it will lead to soreness, fatigue and/or injuries. Work at your own level, start out slow, and gradually increase duration and level of difficulty as your body progresses. Getting fit is not an overnight proposition, it's a lifestyle commitment. Don't expect immediate dramatic changes in your body shape or weight loss. Although changes are happening internally, most external benefits won't become visible for the first four to six weeks. Stay focused on your lifestyle choice and celebrate the internal benefits you're experiencing such as increased energy, less stress and anxiety, higher self-esteem, and an increased feeling of well-being

Staying Motivated
Only one-third of those who begin an exercise program are still exercising by the end of their first year. The good news is that with some strategizing and planning, you can beat the dropout odds and make a successful transition to a lifestyle that incorporates exercise. Here's some tips to help you stay motivated

Find a Fitness Partner. Studies show that exercise adherence is generally greater if the family or a friend is included in the commitment to exercise. Find a walking partner, play tennis with your spouse, or go rollerblading with the kids

Start an Exercise Log or Journal. An exercise log or journal is an excellent way to chart your progress and provide motivation. Nothing beats the feeling of success as you read through your accomplishments. Exercise logs can take on many forms; a calendar to record your workouts, a daily journal to record your feelings and goals, a computerized exercise log, or a log purchased at bookstore. The key is to select a log or journal that fits your needs and provides you the kind of information that is meaningful to you

Schedule Your Workouts. Exercise must be a priority in order to establish it as a lifestyle practice. Make time for your workouts and schedule them on your daily calendar or planner

Toss Your Scale. Ask yourself, "How often has stepping on the scale in the morning ruined my day?" If your answer is "often," consider whether or not you should give that little machine such power over you. The fact is that exercise should not revolve around a number on a scale. Exercise should be about making a commitment to your health and well being, weight loss is a natural side effect of that commitment

Dress the Part. Wear comfortable clothes appropriate for exercising, they will help you feel like working out. If you exercise at a gym put your exercise wear in a bag and set it beside the door the night before. When it's time to head out the door, all you have to do is grab your bag on the way out.

Entertain Yourself. If you exercise alone, consider using a portable music device to listen to your favorite music or books on tape to help keep you entertained during your workout. Many pieces of exercise equipment have racks that fit onto the console to hold reading material. If you exercise at home, turn on some music or bring the television within viewing range.

Evaluate Your Progress. It's a good idea to test your fitness level when you start and re-evaluate yourself every couple of months. There are a variety of fitness tests that you can administer yourself. Getting a body composition test is another great way to chart your progress and can be done every four to six months. The local YMCA or fitness club can perform this test at a minimal cost, even if you're not a member.

Make Exercise Non-Negotiable. Think of exercise as something you do without question, like brushing your teeth or going to work. Taking the lifestyle perspective will help you make exercise a habit.



Before beginning any exercise program check with your physician.