Are You Getting Enough Exercise?
BY: Wendy Korn Heppt
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.
Recipe of the Week
- Greek yogurt has twice the protein of regular yogurt because it takes 3 to 4 times more milk to make it. Celebrate June Dairy Month with Greek yogurt topped with fresh berries.
- Bok Choy, also known as Chinese cabbage or pak choi, has been grown in China for over 6,000 years. Choose firm stalks, avoiding brown spots and wilted leaves, and add to stir-fry.
- Apple skin is full of fiber & Alzheimer’s-disease-fighting antioxidants -- so eat it! Refrigerate in a plastic bag away from foods with strong odors; they absorb odors easily.
- Collards, mustard greens and kale are available in bags, pre-washed & chopped -- so they’re easy to steam or saute! Eat your greens as a side dish or in quesadillas, soups & stews.
- Avocados are rich in 20 nutrients and great beyond guacamole. Chop for a ham, egg and cheese wrap; slice for a deli roast beef sandwich; cube and toss into linguini and shrimp.
- Black-eyed Peas: Fresh, canned and frozen varieties are all nutrient-rich options -- making it easier to eat your daily veggies. Rinse and drain canned peas to cut down on salt.
- Ugli Fruit, beautiful benefits! Peel & eat for fiber & vitamin C. Choose fruit heavy for size; dents normal and color not important. Store on counter 5 days or refrigerate 2 weeks.
- Radicchio, also known as Italian chicory, is high in vitamin K for bone health. Great in salads: Choose bright, tender leaves; avoid brown or limp ones. Refrigerate up to 3 days.
- Cherimoya, a high-fiber tropical fruit, tastes like a mix of strawberry and mango. Choose firm, unblemished fruit, cut in wedges and spoon out creamy flesh.
- Kale in lentil soup is a double dose of New Year’s luck! Round-shaped lentils symbolize coins; kale, paper money. Both are packed with antioxidants for a year of healthy fortune.
- Tea is native to China, but Americans invented tea bags and first drank iced tea at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Enjoy hot and reap health benefits from both black & green tea.
- Dried Plums (formerly prunes) may help prevent cancer and decrease inflammation. Slice fruit, stuff with cheese and walnuts, and wrap in prosciutto to make quick party appetizers.
- Oatmeal month is officially January. Cook breakfast oatmeal with 1% milk for extra protein, calcium and vitamin D -- or enjoy whole-grain oatmeal raisin cookies as a smart snack.
- Spices and herbs add antioxidants to every dish. One tsp. ground cinnamon contains as many antioxidants as 1/2 cup blueberries; 1 tsp. yellow curry as many as 1/2 cup red grapes.
- Fish, the best source of omega-3 fats for heart and brain health, may even help ward off depression. Mix canned white tuna, salmon and sardines for an omega-rich seafood salad.
- Orange juice is filled with immune-boosting nutrients that fight colds and the flu: vitamins C and B6, folate, potassium and magnesium. Choose 100% juice with no added sugar.
- Walnuts are a significant source of plant-based omega-3 fats. These fats -- also in ground flaxseed, canola oil and edamame -- provide many heart-healthy benefits.
- Pear, apple and Asian pear slices + yogurt-based dips = winning strategy for game-day parties. Combine Greek vanilla yogurt with chocolate-hazelnut spread for a fast, healthy dip.
- Pumpkin and sweet potato -- fresh, mashed or canned -- adds disease-fighting antioxidants to waffles and pancakes. Use whole-wheat flour to double your fiber and nutrient intake.
- Snack smart to achieve weight loss goals. Choose fast and fully edible fruits like grapes, apples, persimmon and kiwi. Yes, fuzzy kiwi skin is edible! Simply wash and rub dry.
What kind of water do you usually drink?