"Beyond Chocolate? Exercise: Naturally!"
That was the title of a talk I recently did in Idyllwild, and this month’s newsletter contains excerpts from that talk. Alzheimer’s, obesity, fatigue, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, heart disease and a host of other ailments are directly related to lack of exercise. While fear of disease or worsening of a disease is one reason to start moving, the best reason I can think of to do regular exercise is that afterwards, we feel good.
Exercise is one lifestyle factor that significantly affects health, yet it often slips off the list of priorities. There are many reasons to make exercise part of our routine health care practice. The Journal of Applied Physiology provides some facts of interest regarding exercise in the U.S.:
-- Inactivity relates to 250,000 deaths per year.
-- Diabetes cost per year in the U.S. is 174 billion dollars.
-- Obesity annual cost is 80 billion (California leads at 7.7 billion).
Inactivity promotes chronic disease at a cost of nearly half-trillion dollars per year. Somebody is making a lot of money off of our unhealthy habits. Taking good care of ourselves is not profitable for Corporate America.
If you have a regular exercise program, great, keep it up. If not, begin.
No More Excuses: Pro-Active Exercise Tips
Have fun, it is the key to success. Do your exercise not because you have to, motivated by fear of what might happen if you don’t, but because you love it and have fun with it.
Overall fitness and muscle tone is more important than just losing weight.
It is O.K. to divide exercise into two or three shorter intervals, rather than one long one.
To avoid injury and downtime, exercise within the scope of your physical state of health.
Look carefully at any excuse not to exercise and then begin a program that is realistic, even if it is just isometric exercise due to physical limitations. If you are just starting an exercise routine, consider one that you enjoy and can commit to and then begin slowly: a little movement is better than none.
Make a commitment you can’t possibly renege on, such as five-minute sessions, three times a week to begin. Gradually increase to longer sessions five to six days a week. Walking is excellent exercise and a good precursor to more aerobic exercise, when it is appropriate.
We are creatures of habit, and once the habit becomes established (in about one month), then it is easier to keep that commitment to ourselves. As your exercise routine advances, be sure to allow warm up and cool down time to avoid stressing your body. Stay away from competition, at least initially, because it can foster unrealistic expectations and possibly result in injury.
Exercise with your friends, family, dog.
Climb stairs, park at a distance, bicycle while you watch netflixs.
Seek out a qualified trainer, motivator and cheerleader.
Log your progress.
Read inspirational exercise magazines, books, websites/blogs.
Reward your efforts: especially in the beginning.
Remember how good you feel: afterwards.
Your exercise time is your priority. Regular exercise improves everything you do in life.
Visualize your goal and reflect on it for motivation.
Stressed from work? Workouts (and laughter) are excellent stress busters that clear the mind.
Take a before picture.
Once in shape, sign up for an event.
Remember how yucky you felt without exercise.
Put motivational quotes on your refrigerator or computer for periodic viewing.
Just as you plan your monetary budget, plan your exercise program and stick with it.
Every six weeks or so change your program, variety is important for optimal health.
Set up some good music to work out to.
Rest: one or two days a week, and every month or so take off a few days to allow your body to recover.
Forget about all or nothing, if you don’t have the time you need, work out for the time you have.
Work out at the same time each day, preferably in the morning, so if you miss you can do something a little later in the day.
How Much to Exercise?
To determine your exercise limits: subtract your age in years from 220. Multiply the result by 50 percent for a lower pulse rate (number of beats per minute) to strive for during exercise. Multiply the result by 70 percent for an upper limit. Slow down if you experience shortness of breath or cannot talk (unless interval training). Consult a physician if you experience pain from your stomach up to your left shoulder, dizziness, disorientation or any other form of persistent physical concern.
For General Optimal Health
A good duration and frequency to strive for is at least 30 minutes every day to prevent chronic diseases. If you are eating a good quality diet and still gaining weight at 30 minutes a day, you may need to up it to 60 minuets a day, or even 90 minuets a day, especially if you have been significantly overweight and don’t want to gain it back. The good news: you can do it in bits and pieces.
Whatever activity it is, you need to move your body to the degree that it's making you breathe faster or harder. For millions of years we exercised all day long. That was the norm. But remember, even 20 minutes a day will provide benefit, as in reduced risk for cardiovascular disease.
Interval Training for Intransigent Weight Issues
(weight issues not due to thyroid or other metabolic disorder, or junk food)
Interval Training involves short bursts of high intensity exercise to increase growth hormone (GH). Growth hormone enhances muscle tone, decreases insulin resistance (high sugar leads to high insulin which shuts off GH) and reduces unwanted weight. GH actually tells fat cells to burn fat, and not uptake so much in the future. Exercise, a good quality diet and sound sleep are the three healthiest ways to increase GH. If you are new to interval training I suggest that you enlist the aid of a professional trainer in setting up an appropriate and safe program.
Don’t Forget Fluids
Adequate fluid replacement before and during moderate to heavy exercise ensures your health, safety, and optimal physical performance. Suggestions for the typical adult:
•Drink adequate fluids during the 24-hour period before exercise (half your body weight in ounces), especially during the period that includes the meal prior to exercise, to promote proper hydration before exercise or competition. •About two hours before moderate exercise, drink about eight ounces of fluid; sixteen ounces before strenuous exercise to promote adequate hydration. During exercise, you should start drinking early and at regular intervals to replace all the water lost through sweating. Don’t wait until you are thirsty. •Ingested fluids should be cool but not ice cold, if possible. •If you plan to exercise for more than one hour, a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink such as coconut water at 16-32 ounces every hour is excellent. For exercise lasting less than one hour, plain water is fine. •Including sea salt in the re-hydration solution is acceptable, but generally unnecessary for low to moderate exercise workouts as long as you are accustomed to the climate in which you are exercising.
I hope you have enjoyed this month’s newsletter. As always, comments and feedback are welcome.
Jon Dunn, ND