|You may not like it, but medical research proves what joggers have known all along — staying healthy requires vigorous physical activity. And the latest recommendations call for incorporating resistance and strength training into your aerobic regimen (see Exercise: Strength Training on page 188).
“The benefits of aerobic exercise are well documented,” says Dr. Chetan Patel, a cardiologist at Lake Hospital System. “Aerobic activity like running or biking lowers cholesterol while improving cardiovascular status.”
But weak muscles have a more difficult time providing the strength required for extended aerobic exercise. By building lean body mass, it’s easier to work your cardiovascular system more effectively.
And, now for the news the couch potatoes dread: The newest guidelines from both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and American College of Sport Medicine call for moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for at least 30 minutes, five days a week. If you want to use the aerobic exercise to lose weight, you may have to crank up that activity to 60 minutes or more each session. " style="background: #00B305" />No matter what, people starting aerobic training programs should consult with a doctor and implement the exercise gradually. “Don’t just jump on the treadmill or start pumping weights,” Patel says. “Get some basic knowledge first. Maybe start with yoga or tai chi. These exercises promote flexibility and strength, both of which are necessary for a successful aerobic program.”
People who can’t fit regular gym time into their schedules can do other practical things throughout the workday. Patel points out that combining short bouts of activity, even in 10-minute bursts, can add up to the daily 30-minute goal.
“Walk from the parking lot,” Patel suggests. “Take the stairs, stretch in the office. Play outside with your kids. ... Take time to get flexible and then keep moving. Take it in steps.”
How They Did It
After suffering a heart attack last May, Eric Kimura of Mentor spent three days in Willoughby’s Lake West Hospital, pondering his health and resolving to take action to improve it.
“At first I was really worried,” Kimura says of the start of his cardiac rehabilitation. “Every time I felt any chest pain, I’d start to think I may be overdoing things or maybe I wasn’t doing enough. But because I have a family, I really wanted to make an effort to lose weight and get healthy. I want to be there for them.”
Today, the father of two says he feel pretty good. He’s lost about 35 pounds, lowered his blood pressure and raised his energy level, which he attributes to a new healthy outlook and workout routine.
He began a cardio rehabilitation program in June, going to the hospital three days a week for an hour on the treadmill, exercise bike and elliptical machine. Several weeks into his regimen, his trainer added weights and strength training to complement the aerobic portion of his workouts.
“It takes a little time and effort, but it’s worth it,” he says. “I’ve made a big change in my lifestyle in eating and exercise, but I feel so much healthier and stronger, I don’t want to go back to my old ways.”
A Guide To: Getting Enough Cardio
For people age 65 and under , Here are the latest cardio basics from the American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine recommend for people age 65 and under :
• Do moderately intense cardio (activity intense enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat) for 30 minutes or more five times a week, or do vigorously intense cardio for 20 minutes or more three times a week. If you want to maintain or lose weight, 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity might be necessary.
• Set a Schedule: Maybe it’s on your lunch hour or after dinner — choose specific times to exercise and it’ll help you stay consistent.
• Involve Others: Make the commitment to more exercise with your spouse, a friend or even your kids to teach them a healthy lifestyle at a young age.
• No Gym Membership Required: A pair of walking shoes and some motivation are all you really need.
Source: American College of Sports Medicine; www.acsm.org