Empowering Resolutions: Are You Exercising Hard Enough?
With obesity becoming an epidemic in the United States, particularly among
children, we need exercise more than ever!
I get many emails a week about exercise and how and when to go about it. For the
most part, you can find the general answers here:
For heart health, cardiovascular and fat burning needs, aerobics is essential. I
am always telling patients that by simply moving (a brisk walk, jogging,
cycling, skating...) you will increase your heart rate, increase energy levels,
improve circulation, work the heart and lungs, improve your mood, increase lean
muscle mass, decrease body fat and relieve stress, especially when done on a
long term basis.
Frequency, duration, and intensity are the three determinants. How many times
per week are you working out? For what period of time? At what level of
intensity? These determinants will establish the overall effectiveness of your
Most experts recommend, that if you are a beginner, start with 3 times per week,
20-30 minutes per session. If 20 minutes is to difficult to begin with, that's
fine just keep at it until you reach the 20 minute goal. (In order for your
heart to benefit, you should try to exercise aerobically for a minimum of 20
minutes.) By beginning slowly, you can gradually work up to more exercise. Those
who start right into an exercise routine 5 or 6 times a week will burnout and
probably injure themselves as the go.
For those who are comfortable with aerobic activity for at least 20 minutes, 3
times per week, it is NOW TIME to increase the length of your workouts to 30
minutes and to exercise 4 times a week (rather than 3). If 20 minutes of
exercise has been the goal you have reached for two weeks now, try increasing
the duration in small increments by 5 additional minutes. This will make the
For those who are comfortable with aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes, 4
times per week, it is NOW TIME to increase the length of your workouts to 40
minutes and to exercise 5 times a week (rather than 4).
A variation on this theme is to increase the resistance/intensity in your
aerobic activity. By doing so, you will increase your caloric burn by a large
percent! If you are using the stair master, steps or elliptical machines, try
increasing the "effort number" or height of the incline on your machine and you
will appreciate the additional effort! If you are in a cardo class, jogging or
fast walking, take a small weight with you. 2-5 lbs. will make a world of
To avoid overuse injuries such as tendonitis, shin splints... you should cross
train (one day try walking, the next day ride a bike, the following day
participate in an aerobics class...).
Remember, aerobic exercise is essential for weight loss, cardiovascular fitness
and body-shaping. Current research supports a complete fitness program. A
complete program should include aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise and
stretching. To be successful, you must incorporate it into your lifestyle, like
eating well and getting good quality sleep.
It's time to step it up!