Why is it that so many of us – 60 percent of Americans -- can't bring ourselves to exercise regularly even though we know it is so good for us? Whatever your reason for inactivity, don't get discouraged. Here is a way for you to "shape up for summer."
First, get a green light from your doctor. Once that's done, dive in by remembering the word "FIT"! That stands for frequency, intensity and time.
FREQUENCY. At first, exercise three times a week. In four to six weeks, increase to five times a week. Don't overdo it: The body needs at least one day a week to recover.
INTENSITY. The simplest guideline is to take your pulse while exercising. You want to reach and stay at your target heart rate. To figure your target rate: Subtract your age from 220 to get your age-predicted maximum heart rate. Multiply that by 60 percent. (Example for a 40-year-old: 220 - 40 = 180 and 180 x 0.6 = 108.) In three months, increase intensity as high as 80 percent.
Now focus on intensity. If you find that you're becoming overly fatigued for a period of several hours after exercise, or that you don't recover fully before your next exercise session, you are probably over doing it.
TIME. Start with sessions as short as 12 minutes, and increase to the optimal 30 minutes. Don't go much past 45 minutes; more time increases risk of injury and can jeopardize long-term compliance.
Once you have established a three day a week program starting with as little as 12 minutes per session, you can then increase the length of time per session, to what I would consider to be an optimal range of approximately 30 minutes. :
Consistency is paramount. You're better off getting moderate activity on a regular basis than knocking yourself out sporadically.
Remember, not exercising is a choice, too. Take that path and you choose increased health risks and a lowered quality of life. For the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, I'm Dr. Tedd Mitchell, and this is the President's Prescription.
Copyright 2012 KCBD. All rights reserved.