“Two thirds of health care costs are driven by our daily choices – WE are in the driver’s seat.” – Institute of Medicine, 2006
There’s a miracle drug that’s been on the market for a long time that:
- Reduces the risk of heart disease by 40%
- Increases the good cholesterol (HDL)
- Lowers the risk of stroke by 27%
- Improves mental sharpness
- Reduces the incidence of diabetes by almost 50%
- Improves the quality of sleep
- Reduces the incidence of high blood pressure by almost 50%
- Can slow the aging process
- Can reduce mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by almost 50%
- Can relieve stress and anxiety
- Can lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60%
- Enhances your self-image
- Helps maintain a healthy weight and body composition
- Can reduce the risk of developing of Alzheimer’s disease by 33%
- Can decrease mild to moderate depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy
- Improves the quality of your life
- Can prevent or reverse osteoporosis
I’ll bet you’d like your prescription to this magic pill, wouldn’t you?
Well, the short and sweet version of this prescription is…
May is Exercise is Medicine™ month! The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), along with the American Medical Association (AMA) launched the Exercise is Medicine™ program in 2007 to recognize, emphasize and celebrate the valuable health benefits of exercise on a national scale. Exercise and physical activity are important to health, the prevention & treatment of many chronic diseases, and tremendous health benefits are seen with even low levels of exercise.
This week, I’m going to talk about cardio-respiratory, or aerobic, exercise. And, in next week’s post, I’ll outline the recommendations for strength training. In the final post, flexibility and neuro-muscular (functional) training will be the focus.
Cardio-respiratory (Aerobic) Exercise, or Cardio, for short…
Cardio-respiratory exercise is all about exercising your heart and lungs to make the them more efficient at delivering life-giving oxygen to the cells of your body.
Oh, you thought it was about weight loss? Well, granted, aerobic exercise is known to help your body “burn” excess calories, aiding in losing weight. However, even thin folks need to exercise their heart and lungs!
I will not get up on my soapbox to rant about how the dysfunctional marriage of exercise and diet mentality needs to head to divorce court!
Really, I will not get up on my soapbox to rant about how the dysfunctional marriage of exercise and diet mentality needs to head to divorce court!
No, seriously, I promise, I will NOT get up on my soapbox to rant about how the dysfunctional marriage of exercise and diet mentality needs to head to divorce court!
Oops, sorry…stepping down now…
So, to maintain your health and reduce the risk for chronic disease, engage in moderately intense cardio-respiratory exercise, such as walking or low-impact aerobics, for 30 minutes a day, five days a week (150 minutes), or do vigorously intense cardio-respiratory exercise, such as jogging or running, for 20 minutes a day, three days a week (60 minutes).
*Note: Now, if you DO want to shed some pounds or you’re training for an athletic event, you’ll need to increase your time on the track or in the Zumba class to around 60 minutes, five days a week (300 minutes) of moderate activity or 40 minutes, three times per week (120 minutes) of vigorous activity.
So, how do you gauge your intensity level – what’s considered moderate and what’s considered vigorous?
An easy way to do this is to the “talk test.” If you can carry on a normal conversation while exercising, you’re probably working at a moderate pace. If you can only get out a sentence at a time before taking a breath while exercising, then you’re probably exercising at a vigorous intensity.
For many of my clients, time is a big obstacle to getting their exercise in. If it’s difficult for you to find time to get in 30 or 60 minutes at a time, the research shows that short bouts of exercise throughout the day are just as effective. Check out this article about HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), which uses one-minute intervals of exercise.
Another great way to overcome the time issue and work the exercise into your day is to wear a pedometer and aspire to walk 10,000 steps a day or about five miles. The Walking Site has some valuable tips on how to get started. Suddenly, you’ll look for the parking space WAYYYyy out on the fringes of the parking lot, just to get more steps in. Really!
If you’re reluctant to join a gym or the weather always seems to thwart your walks or runs, Leslie Sansone offers some neat DVDs so you can walk (and jog) at home. Anticipating a snowy winter, I ordered a couple of Leslie’s DVDs. Even though we had a mild winter, I’ve been using the DVDs for the past few months, saving me from driving six miles from my rural home (no good/safe place to run) into town to run. I love them- my heart rate is right up there where it should be – all in the comfort of my TV room.
If you’re interested in learning to jog/run, the C25K program is awesome for the novice. In nine weeks, this program takes you from being a Couch Potato to running 5 kilometers (about 3 miles)!
Other forms of cardio-respiratory exercise are activities like Zumba, cycling, cross-country skiing, roller skating – anything that elevates your heart rate and sustains it for at least 20 minutes.
What’s your favorite Cardio activity?
Leave your response in the comments below and come back next week to learn more about Strength Training.. And, remember, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” -George Eliot
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