Exercise for the Healthy Adult
What can exercise do for me?
Heart and lung fitness is the most important health reason for exercise. However, regular exercise can also help you to:
A. Lost weight or avoid gaining weight
B. Control blood cholesterol, blood pressure or diabetes
C. Improve your mental outlook and physical endurance
D. Reduce stress
What kind of exercise should I do?
Different kinds of activities help the body in different ways. Some can help you be more flexible, some will promote muscle strength, and some will increase fitness levels.
Golfing and weights are good for your circulation and muscle tone, but to improve heart and lung fitness you need aerobic exercise. Aerobics are any exercise of any activity that uses large muscle groups (legs or arms) at a steady pace for 20 minutes or longer.
Examples of aerobic activities are:
1. Brisk walking
7. Cross-country skiing
If you have been inactive, you may need to begin with five to ten minutes of activity each day, then gradually increase your time and pace.
How much exercise should I do?
To help your heart, lungs and circulation, it is best to gradually work up to at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four days a week, working at a moderate to vigorous pace. If you are not able to exercise vigorously, you can gain pace on a daily basis. When weight loss is a goal, try to work up to 60 minutes of activity four to five days a week.
How will I know if I am doing enough or if I am over doing it?
You can check yourself in one of two ways:
Use the rating scale: Make sure you exercise at a level that feels “moderate” to “somewhat hard” (3 to 4 on the rating scale below). Avoid exercising tool lightly or too hard.
Use the “talk test”: If you are exercising with a friend and you become breathless and unable to comfortable carry on a conversation, you need to slow things down.
0 – Standing at rest
0.5 – Very, very easy
1 – Very easy
2 – Easy
3 – Moderate
4 – Somewhat hard
5 – Hard
6- A bit harder
7 – Very hard
8 – Getting more difficult
9 – Very, very hard
10 – Maximal
Do I need to see my doctor before I start an exercise program?
Some people should consult their doctor before they start an exercise program. See your doctor if:
A. You have a heart condition
B. You take medication for your heart of blood pressure
C. You are an insulin dependent diabetic
D. You have pain or pressure in your chest, shoulders, arms or neck at rest or with exertion.
E. You feel breathless after mild exertion
F. You have a history of fainting-spells or falling over due to dizziness
G. You have a bone or joint problem that you could make worse with physical activity
F. You are over 40 years of age, have not been physically active and plan a relatively vigorous exercise program
How can I stay motivated to stay with the program?
Be sure you enjoy the activities you choose. For example, do not ask yourself to use a bike that you find uncomfortable.
Try to vary your activities. Two walking sessions combined with two swimming or aerobic dance sessions each week may keep you from becoming bored with exercise.
Join a health club or exercise with a friend or group of friends. That way you can help keep each other on track.
Keep a log of your progress. Set realistic goals and reward yourself, even in small ways, when you achieve them.
Guidelines for safe exercise
Warm-up and cool-down. Always warm up and cool down with exercise. A warm-up means starting out at a slower pace for three to five minutes to gradually increase the heart rate and body temperature. This prepares the heart and muscles for activity.
On warm, humid days, reduce your pace and distance as needed and exercise during the cooler times of day. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise. Avoid overdressing; you need to allow body heat to escape naturally. Exercise indoors during ozone alerts. In cold weather, wear layers of clothing you can take on or off according to how you feel. If cold air causes you discomfort, you may want to cover your mouth and nose or exercise indoors.
If you have not been active, avoid trying too much, too fast and too soon. If you stop exercise for two weeks or longer, start up again slowly. Reduce your time and pace, then increase one step at a time until you are back to your normal level.
STOP EXERCISE IF YOU FEEL ANY OF THE FOLLOWING SYMPTONS:
A. Faintness/feeling lightheaded
C. Excessive shortness of breath
D. Chest pain or pressure