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July 14, 2013

Shortening Your Exercise Program?

I have been reading multiple articles in the past few months that have been analyzing data about just how much exercise we really need in order to stay fit. The consensus is that exercise should occur approximately 3 times a week - more does not incur greatly increased benefits and too much may actually become detrimental.

On a daily level, the American College of Sports medicine recommends, at a minimum, 20 to 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise - and you can break that into three 10 minute increments throughout the day. That means 60-80% of maximal heart rates based upon your age (220 - your age x .70) or exercising just on the edge of being able to carry on a conversation (or if you're alone, sing along to your workout music).

But, people are busy and life's priorities crowd out the best intentions (at least, that's the most common reason people give for not exercising regularly). So the new trend is to crystallize the day's workout into shorter workouts. The most popular so far is scientifically formulated 7 minute routine of high intensity exercise training which requires no specialized equipment and exercises all areas of the body.

Here's the problem that I have with many of these ideas. Not everybody can do these exercise programs. Depending upon health status, prior injuries, age, lifestyle, and goals, an exercise routine really needs to be customized to the individual. This is why visiting your doctor first is so important: they can gauge your readiness for exercise. Athletic trainers are also a good resource for establishing an exercise program or tweaking an existing program that has gone stale.

Be aware that moderate intensity is different for everyone. A middle-aged, overweight, sedentary person may be exercising at moderate intensity climbing a flight of stairs while another may be fit enough to jog 2 miles. Exercising with a buddy is a great motivator if you both are well matched fitness-wise. In other words, don't let anyone else push you so hard that you feel injured or don't enjoy yourself, or else you'll never stick with the program.

The most important take-away message is to MOVE.



Posted by linda at July 14, 2013 5:26 AM

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