With the technological advancements of our western
modernization, we have moved to a chair-based society that now comes with this
warning: Prolonged sitting and physical inactivity cause chronic disease and
premature death. With this realization physicians and exercise professionals
all over the world are taking steps to providing the right prescription for
prevention -- exercise.
Exercise is medicine that provides an
immediate response, such as reducing blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol.
It can also provide other benefits, such as reduced stress, improved moods,
reduction of body fat, and protection from eight different cancers. So, if
exercise is medicine, what is considered the proper dosage?
The most common exercise prescription is 30
minutes of physical activity, five days per week, for a total of 150 minutes a
week. We all have different schedules and needs, but the good news is exercise
is flexible, and anyone can get the health results they desire without letting
their schedule get in the way. By splitting the recommended dose into three, ten-minute
segments each day, you can easily take your medicine for lasting results.
One great way to start moving is by
maximizing everyday activities, such as work breaks, chores around the house,
virtual groups through devices like Fitbit, walking groups, or other activities
that get you moving at a moderate intensity. In fact, most of us can agree that
vacuuming can take a moderate amount of effort, and if done continuously for 10
minutes, would certainly count as exercise. Getting results requires effort,
but effort can be as simple as a brisk walk. These are great ways to
incorporate “informal” ways of exercising.
When designing a “formal” exercise program
such as a daily walking routine, there are three key factors to consider to get
the health results you want: Frequency, time and intensity. Adjusting any or
all of these factors will result in improved health. Let’s go through a quick
example to show the progression.
Say you started with walking for 30 minutes a
day, three days a week, and want to change your routine to get better results.
First, you would increase frequency by going from three days a week to five days
a week. Once you’ve successfully done that, you would add more time -- adding 2
- 5 minutes of exercise to each day you walk is a reasonable increase for
success and will help you advance your goal.
Once you’ve increased frequency and time, all
that’s left is to increase intensity. For a walking program, you can either
increase your speed or, if on a treadmill, your incline. By increasing your
speed, you’ll be walking a farther distance in the same amount of time. When
you increase your incline on a treadmill, you’re increasing the difficulty of
walking the same amount of distance for the same amount of time. Both methods
will increase your heart rate and set off a hormonal cascade, which increases
your metabolism for additional hours of calorie burn long after you’ve
completed your walk.
Bottom line, exercise is more than a tool for weight loss and should be looked upon as the “one pill cure all” for lifelong prevention of chronic disease. The right dose for most people is as little as three, 10-minute segments most days of the week. Adventist Health Fitness and our team of exercise physiologists and trainers are here for you to prescribe a safe and effective exercise prescription. Get moving today!
By Kevin Vondergeest | Wellness Coordinator| ACSM EP -C, Adventist Health Lodi Memorial