Ask Dr. Lo
L e t ’ s G e t Mo v i n g
P h y s i c a l A c t i v i t y a n d H e a l t h
by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center
Some physical activity is better than none at all, so start slowly and build up from there.
If you are a healthy adult, it is advised that you make aerobic and strengthening activities part of your regular routine. If you have a health problem such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, ask your healthcare professional about the types and amounts of physical activity you can safely do.
Aim for at least an accumulation of 2.5 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.
Walking fast, jogging, dancing, and other types of aerobic activities make your heart beat faster and may cause you to breathe harder. Try to be active for at least 10 minutes at a time without breaks. You can count each 10-minute segment of activity toward your physical activity goal. Aerobic activities can include biking, swimming, brisk walking, jogging, pickleball, racquetball, dancing, jump-roping, rebounder, or engaging in activities that will support you such as chair aerobics.
Try to do aerobic activities at a moderate intensity. Do the “talk test” to make sure you are exercising at a pace that you can maintain. You should be able to speak a few words in a row, but you should not be able to sing.
Aim to work in at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days. Add a brisk walk after lunch, dinner, or when your schedule permits as a way to boost the amount of aerobic activity in your life.
Do strengthening activities twice per week.
Try adding strength-training activities to your schedule. Squats, lunges, deadlifts, lat pull-downs, pull-ups, push-ups, triceps pull-downs, bicep curls, and standing calf-raises are a few examples. Activities that make you push or pull against something will help you improve your strength and balance.
Strength training helps you build and maintain bone and muscle. So, to help strengthen your whole body, work all the major muscle groups, including those in your legs, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms. Doing two to three sets for each muscle group twice per week is a great start. You can try different activities to find out which ones you enjoy most. Try lifting weights or working out with resistance bands. Isometric exercises also work.
The good news is that activities that build strength in your lower body may improve your balance. Try activities that work your ankles, feet, and lower legs.
Pilates and yoga may improve balance, muscle strength, and flexibility. You can also try tai chi or practice standing on one leg.
Take breaks from being still.
Recent studies suggest that long periods of inactivity may be linked to health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Add motion to your day. Download an app to your phone, computer, or other device to remind yourself to take breaks. Routine tasks such as sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, raking leaves, mowing, and other yard/house work can also be part of your physical activity plan.
How Can I Start to be Active?
First, pick activities you enjoy. Create a list of the ones you would like to do, such as walking, aerobics, tennis, rowing, or taking a class at a fitness or community center. To increase your activity level, add an activity that sounds fun and try it out. You are more likely to stay active if you choose activities you enjoy. Start slowly and add a little at a time.
The idea of being active at least 2.5 hours per week may seem like too much at first. Start by moving for 10 minutes a day. Every few weeks, add 5 to 10 minutes until you are active at least 30 minutes most days.
Set a goal, add it to your calendar, and do it.
Setting goals and having a plan to realize them helps you stick with a physical activity routine.
Set specific short-term goals that you can track. For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to be more active this week,” set a goal of walking 30 minutes a day for 3 days this week.
Think of the days and times you could do the activity, such as first thing in the morning, during lunch breaks, after dinner, or on Saturday afternoon. Look at your calendar, phone, or computer to determine the days and times that work best and commit to those plans in writing. Also, set your phone to send reminders to help you stay on track. You can also confide in a close friend to help you stay accountable.
How Can I Overcome Physical Activity Roadblocks?
Starting a physical activity program and sticking with it is easier than you think. You can overcome these common roadblocks to physical activity and “just do it.” You will feel better in the end when you accomplish the goals you set for yourself.
If work, family, and other demands are making it hard to be active, try the tips below for adding physical activity to your daily routine. Remember, every little bit counts.
• Do 10 minutes of physical activity at a time. Spread bursts of activity throughout your day.
• Add a 15-minute walk or activity that you will stick with during your lunch break or after dinner.
• Make activity part of your daily routine. If you have time, walk a flight of stairs or, instead of driving, walk or bike with your child to school.
• Take a break from sitting at the computer or TV. Stretch or go for a short walk. Perhaps do some jumping jacks or push-ups against the wall.
If you are not motivated and find it hard to get moving and working out seems like a chore, then here are some ideas that might keep you moving:
• Switch it up. Try a new activity, such as dancing, a racquet sport, or water aerobics, to find out what you enjoy most.
• Make it social. Involve your family and friends. Physical activity is good for them, too. Plan fun physical activities that allow you to spend quality time together and stay on track.
o Meet a friend for workouts or train together for a charity event.
o Join a class or sports league, where people count on you to show up.
o Find an activity you can enjoy with your children, like dancing to music, hiking, or playing sports such as basketball, tennis, or racquetball.
o Seek support from someone who will inspire you to get moving and help you reach your goals. This could be a family member, coach or trainer.
o Have a list of people close by that can help you out if need be. Perhaps they can watch the children, pick the children up from school, work out with you, or just continue to encourage you as you make progress.
If the weather is not ideal, you can reach your fitness goals in any weather by: (1) Wearing the right gear. A rain jacket, sun hat, and sunscreen, or winter clothes will protect you and help you stick to your plans; (2) Find a place to stay active indoors. Download an app to your phone or other device to be active at home, or take an indoor class when the weather is bad.
If cost is an issue, check out your local recreation (rec) or community center. These centers may cost less than other gyms, fitness centers, or health clubs. Find one that lets you pay only for the months or classes you want, instead of the whole year. Choose physical activities that do not require special gear or advanced skills. Check out the local Goodwill or Thrift Store to see if they have some of the equipment you may need. Racquetball racquets, baseball bats, golf clubs, etc. are usually easy to find at a secondhand store.
Prepare to break through your roadblocks. What are the top three things keeping you from being more active? Write them down and stop using them for an excuse. Find a solution. If you cannot join a gym, then start walking in your neighborhood. If you have very little time, then jump rope or do jumping jacks for five minutes a day. If you do not have anyone to watch your children, then be active with your children. You can take walks together or play games such as “catch” or basketball. Find a friend or family member you trust who is willing to watch your child while you exercise. Some people take turns watching each other’s children. Some exercise facilities have free day care.
If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health.
The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.
*Content Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).