Live Right Live Well: Health & Fitness
Are You Getting Enough Exercise?
By Wendy Korn Heppt for Live Right Live Well
You’ve heard it before. Exercise will keep you healthy and help you manage your heartburn. But how much exercise do you really need? The answer: Any activity is better than none, and more activity is better than a little. But to maximize overall health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (such as brisk walking) five or more days a week.
To get the most health benefit with the least time and effort, consider these six ways to crank up your workout routine.
- Have fun The best way to make exercise a regular part of your life is to find something you enjoy doing. When working out is a pleasure, not a chore, you are more likely to stick to it and increase frequency. Hate the idea of going to a gym? Try an exercise video in the comfort of your own home. Jogging give you heartburn? Consider cycling or swimming instead. With so many different fitness activities to choose from, you’re bound to find something you like enough to do several times a week if you just keep looking.
- Take baby steps Not up to a heavy-duty workout? Schedule a moderate yet brisk 10-minute walk every other day for a week. Increase to 15 minutes the following week, gradually building up until -- before you know it -- you're up to 30 minutes of continuous activity.
- No cheating A workout that doesn't break a sweat or elevate your heart rate doesn't qualify even as moderate exercise. "Moderate intensity is when you feel you're beginning to perspire, but you can still talk effortlessly," explains Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise. "Vigorous intensity is when it gets difficult to carry on a conversation."
- Break it up If you can't invest a solid chunk of time toward your daily exercise quota, try a cumulative approach instead by dividing your energy expenditure into two or three 10- or 15-minute miniworkouts.
- Vacuuming counts "Moderate-intensity activities, like vacuuming or gardening, can also count toward your goal as long as you do them for at least 10 minutes continuously," adds Dr. Lee.
- Multitask Multitasking exercises that target several muscle groups at once can help you achieve more in less time. For instance, squats work your gluteals, quadriceps and hamstrings. Push-ups strengthen your chest, shoulders, triceps and core. Raised-leg crunches target both upper and lower abdominals.
The Final Stretch
Finish your workout with a soothing stretch to help maintain youthful flexibility and prevent muscle strain and pain. A great allover stretch: With arms raised overhead, lengthen your entire body and reach for the sky. Hold for a count of 10. Bend your knees, then slowly bend over from the waist and lower your palms to touch the floor; as you hold this stretch, straighten your knees and count to 10. Then, very slowly, roll up to a standing position one vertebra at a time. Take a deep breath and smile -- you're done!
Wendy Korn Heppt is a New York City-based health and fitness writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including Health online, Prevention, Self, Consumer Reports, Newsday and NY Daily News. Wendy writes frequently for Live Right Live Well.
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