Free Press Article – Friday, October 5, 2012
Shannon McCluskey, RMT, CEP
The change of seasons is often a great time for self-reflection. What can you add to your daily routine to improve your health? If getting more exercise comes to mind, now is a great time to get outside and enjoy this beautiful time of year.
As the summer heat gives way to cooler temperatures, activities such as walking, running, bike riding and hiking are just a few wonderful ways for the whole family to get more exercise. If you have been sticking to your exercise routine all summer, good for you! Take this time of year to change things up by trying something new that you may enjoy. Still having trouble getting or staying motivated? Consider the physical and mental benefits associated with participating in regular exercise.
Why is exercise important for physical health? The human body is not designed for inactivity, yet many people spend hours in front of the computer at work or the television at home. Getting the body moving has many different benefits including the following: reducing fatigue, improving energy levels, improving posture and flexibility, improving immunity and strengthening both the heart and lungs. Also, regular exercise helps increase metabolism and is useful in achieving a healthy body weight and maintaining lean muscle mass.
Exercise helps reduces stress-related conditions. Exercise decreases muscle tension producing a relaxation response and clears the mind through the increase of alpha-wave activity in the brain. Physical activity can also improve mental health and relieve symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, poor concentration, fatigue, agitation and irritability, and it will increase the likelihood of independence as we age.
How much exercise is enough to gain these benefits? While even a small amount of exercise is better than none at all, the American College of Sports Medicine recommendations for adults are as follows:
- Cardio-respiratory exercise — moderate intensity for 150 minutes per week (i.e. swimming, running, walking, hiking and biking)
- Resistance exercise — train each major muscle group 2 to 3 days per week (i.e. lifting weights, group strengthening classes and plyometrics)
- Flexibility and neuromotor exercise — 2 to 3 days each week (i.e. yoga, tai chi, and stretching)
Keep in mind that small spurts of activity add up. If you have a hectic schedule it may be easier to fit in two 15-20 minute bouts of exercise into your day. Every little bit helps.
If you’re still not sure how much exercise is enough for you, a personalized exercise consultation can help you follow a program that best suits your needs, and help you achieve your exercise goals. Sometimes achieving the recommended exercise goals is challenging due to personal injury or other health limitations. A personalized exercise consultation can help you.
Shannon is a registered massage therapist and exercise physiologist at Healing Horizons Integrated Health Solutions, located at 2139 N. 12th St. #7. For more information, call 970-256-8449.