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Exercise: Steps Toward a Better Life

Exercise can brighten your mood, stave off depression, and increase energy. It releases powerful neurotransmitters called “endorphins”, reduces your risk for heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, high cholesterol, and many cancers. It can also keep your physician and hospital away! All healthy adults should exercise three days a week or more, intensely enough to raise their heart rates to 60-90% of their maximum heart rate (or VO2 max, maximal oxygen consumption, which refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that a person can utilize during intense exercise).

Insufficient exercise statistics can also be scary. In the U.S., a sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor to four of the six leading causes of death including coronary artery disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes.

The FITT Principles (Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type) outline the key components of any exercise routine and are a great way to keep yourself on track.

FREQUENCY—how often should you exercise? At least three to five times per week; new recommendations are seven days a week.
INSTENSITY—how hard you work out, based on your resting heart rate. Take 220 minus your age and multiply .60-.80. In other words, 60-80% of your max HR.
TIME—For CV/Aerobic exercise, 30-45 minutes of sustained non-stop work using large muscle groups.
TYPE—Aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise, muscular endurance, flexibility and strength.

Aerobic, or cardiovascular exercise uses large muscle groups in a rhythmic fashion for a sustained period of time. It can be key to losing weight and preventing heart disease. Cardiovascular and aerobic exercises include swimming laps, water aerobics, running/jogging, walking, cycling, stair climbing, training on the elliptical, rowing, long soccer or basketball games.

Anaerobic exercise uses less oxygen to work out and can include weight training and core strength. Anaerobic exercise can focus on maximum repetitions, or light repetitions with low weight for toning and injury prevention. This type of workout can protect the body from muscular imbalances due to overuse in aerobic sports like running, swimming, and cycling. It’s also excellent for postural alignment and core muscle strength, which helps the body function and stand upright.

Muscular endurance is one of the more modern additions to fitness routines. It incorporates postural muscles by way of strength, balance and training the muscles to hold positions for a duration of time. Examples include Pilates and yoga, which help with flexibility and are essential for improvement of exercise, including sport-specific stretches to prevent injuries and protect the spine, knees and hips. Studies have shown there can be a marked reduction in injuries if flexibility is practiced at least 20 minutes per day.Nutrition: A Piece of Cake…or Not…

Nutrition: A Piece of Cake…or Not…

When it comes to your nutrition, a balanced diet is best for everyone. Food is what fuels us and helps us get through our day, and how you feed your body affects your performance in everything you do. When we eat, we need to take in a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Depending on your lifestyle you may also be consuming alcohol, vitamins, calcium, iron and other minerals.

Some fun facts…

  • A human’s caloric requirement depends on body size and exercise level.
  • Moderate activity increases to 16 calories per pound of body weight.
  • Vigorous exercise increases to 18-20 calories per pound of body weight.
  • An average 125 pound female needs 2,000 kcals per day.
  • An average 175 pound male needs 2,800 kcals per day.

Protein provides the building blocks of all human cells. It sustains blood glucose levels and muscle mass and prevents muscle atrophy. It improves posture and is crucial for DNA/RNA replication. Humans need two to three servings of protein per day, and many do not consume enough. Protein is found in animal sources including poultry (without skin, not fried), eggs (the most complete protein containing all eight essential amino acids), fish (salmon, flounder, tuna, whiting, halibut, trout, etc.) and red meat (lean and eaten sparingly. Consuming protein for vegans can be more challenging but they can seek out alternative sources including quinoa and nuts.

Carbohydrates provide us energy and glucose. A low-carbohydrate diet used to be trendy, but is not favored any more. “Carbs” are highly for your energy supply and are stored in the form of glucose and glycogen. They can include bread, cereal, rice, crackers, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. You need six to 11 servings of carbs per day, and active people should consume more.

Fruits and vegetables are in a category by themselves because while they do have carbohydrates they are essential to the human body. These foods are loaded with vitamins necessary for many cellular functions. Fruits and veggies are full of fiber which helps prevent colon cancer and are good for skin and digestive health. You need three to five servings per day.

Milk, yogurt and cheese are essential for calcium for your heart and cells as well as for your bones to help prevent osteoporosis.

Fats, oils and sweets are usually high in empty calories and can lead to obesity if overused. They should be used sparingly.

Alcohol in low doses has been shown to to reduce the risk of heart attacks and certain strokes. Larger amounts lead to liver disease, high blood pressure, domestic violence, and depression. The general recommendation is one to two glasses (four ounces) of red wine three to four days per week for good health.

Vitamins are essential to functioning and you should aim to get the recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals. The recommendation for calcium for women is 200 milligrams daily and for men 800 milligrams daily. Many other vitamins including folic acid, vitamin B12, and more can be found in a daily multivitamin.

Jeff Cayo, MS, ATC, PT is the physical therapy manager for OrthoCarolina Pineville’s physical therapy office.

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