Getting Started on Lifetime Fitness

The notion that a certain minimum daily average amount of activity is indispensable to health is just now reaching public consciousness. The Institute of Medicine recommends that we spend a total of at least 60 minutes on most days of the week engaged in any one of numerous forms of physical activities (see Table 10-1).2 This 60 minutes can be accumulated in relatively brief sessions of activity; just mix and match your preferred

Activities in periods as short as 8 to 10 minutes that total 60 minutes by the end of the day. For example, walk your dog for 20 minutes in the morning, enjoy a 20-minute bike ride through the neighborhood after classes, and take a 20-minute walk after dinner. The new guidelines stress the value of moderate activity and suggest that the total amount of activity is more important than the manner in which it is carried out. For total fitness, an exercise program that incorporates aerobic activity, strength training, and stretching is best. The more active you are, the more fit you are likely to be.

In proceeding with a fitness program, keep in mind that fitness builds slowly, so activity should increase gradually. For beginners, consistency is very important. Establish a regular pattern of physical activity first (for example, 30 minutes cumulative to start) and plan to increase that amount over time. View your exercise time as a lifelong commitment.

ASK YOURSELF ANSWERS: 1. True. 2. True. 3. True. 4. False. To be fit means not only to be at desirable weight and to have strong muscles, but also to be flexible and, most importantly, to have muscular and cardiovascular endurance. 5. False. The overload principle states that people should push themselves to exercise longer or harder than they can easily manage to do—although not, of course, to the point of strain. 6. True. 7. False. If you run out of breath, it is not a sign that your heart and lungs are weak but a sign that you are going into oxygen debt. 8. False. Muscle tissue does not turn to fat, but for a muscular athlete who stops exercising, muscle tissue is lost and fat is gained. 9. True. 10. True.

Type of Physical Activity





¦ Walking briskly (3-4 mph)

¦ Accumulate at least

Improves overall health;

Aerobic activity

¦  Water aerobics

¦  Bicycling (# 10 mph)

¦  Tennis (doubles)

¦  Ballroom or line dancing

¦  Gardening

¦  Active play (volleyball, basketball, softball, Ping-Pong)

¦  Active recreation (canoeing, hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading)

150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate-and vigorous-intensity activity.

Helps manage body weight and prevent gradual unhealthy weight gain in adulthood


¦ Racewalking, jogging, or running

¦ For more extensive health

Helps lower blood

Aerobic activity

¦  Swimming laps

¦  Tennis (singles)

¦  Aerobic dancing

¦  Bicycling ($ 10 mph)

¦  Jumping rope

¦  Hiking uphill

¦  Sports such as soccer, ice or field hockey, basketball

¦  Cross-country skiing

¦  Rowing

¦  Stair climbing

Benefits, adults should increase their aerobic activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate-and vigorous-intensity activity.

Pressure and cholesterol levels and reduce risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and certain types of cancer

¦ Adults should do activities to strengthen muscles and bones at least 2 days a week. Choose activities that work all the different parts of the body—your legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms.

Muscle and bone

¦ Lifting weights

20-45 minutes per session,

Maintains muscle mass


¦ Push-ups

2-3 nonconsecutive days per

And strength; promotes


¦  Sit-ups

¦  Pull-ups

¦  Resistance exercises with exercise bands, weight machines, hand-held weights

Week (8 or more exercises, 1-3 sets, 8-12 reps)

Strong bones; reduces risk and symptoms of arthritis; improves glycemic control


¦  Standing or seated toe touch

¦  Overhead reach

¦  Yoga

Hold each positioned stretch for 20-30 seconds; do on most, preferably all, days of the week

Reduces risk for injuries and falls; maintains and increases muscle and joint flexibility

*Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily. Most of the 60 or more minutes a day should be either moderate - or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least 3 days a week. As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle strengthening and bone strengthening activities on at least 3 days of the week.

SOURCE: Adapted from Department of Health and Human Services, 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, ODPHP Publication No. U0036 (Washington, DC: Department of Health and Human Services), October 2008. You can find more information about the new advice on physical activity at Www. health. gov/paguidelines

An "apparently healthy" individual has no more than one of the following risk factors:

¦  Sedentary lifestyle

¦  Age (men > 40 years; women > 50 years)

¦  Family history of heart disease

¦  Cigarette smoking

¦  High blood pressure

¦  High blood cholesterol (> 200 mg/dL)

¦  Diabetes

Exercise stress test a test that monitors heart function during exercise to detect abnormalities that may not show up under ordinary conditions.

If you are just starting on a fitness program, a few precautions are important. If you are an apparently healthy male older than 40 years of age or an apparently healthy female older than 50 years of age, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you have a medical examination and diagnostic exercise stress test before you start a vigorous exercise program. Beginning a moderate program, such as walking, however, does not require a physician’s exam.3

For most people, physical activity should not pose any problem or hazard. However, medical advice concerning suitable type of activity is necessary for anyone with two or more of the risk factors shown in the margin or for anyone diagnosed with cardiac or other known diseases.

The term fitness is not restricted to the seasoned athlete. With a basic understanding of the concept of total fitness and a personal commitment to a physically active lifestyle, anyone can become fit (see Figure 10-1). To be fit, you don’t have to be able to finish the local marathon, nor do you have to develop the muscles of a Mr. Universe or Miss

Olympia. Rather, what you need is a reasonable weight (refer to Chapter 9) and enough flexibility, muscle strength, muscle endurance, and cardiovascular endurance to meet the everyday demands that life places on you, plus some to spare. The Scorecard feature later in this chapter helps you evaluate your own level of physical activity.

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