Eating the right portions of the right foods is only part of the equation for a healthier you. Exercise is the other key component. Stacie McCarthy, EP, MS, an exercise physiologist with The Care New England Wellness Center, says all adults should create a personalized exercise plan designed to improve overall health and that is easy enough to adopt into an already busy lifestyle.
"Consistency is the key to sustaining an exercise routine throughout the year. It's a lifestyle commitment actually, and we like to say that not exercising is not an option!" McCarthy says, adding that she helps people create their own exercise program through the Wellness Center's Healthy Steps Program.
- Even if you've tried this resolution before and not kept with it, McCarthy suggests you try again and follow these tips:
- Try the buddy system. You are less likely to skip a workout if you are scheduled to meet a friend.
- Schedule your workouts into your weekly calendar as you would a doctor's appointment.
- Choose an activity you enjoy so you will be more compliant. Choose one that your body can tolerate. Don't decide to jog if you have chronic knee pain, for example.
- Set a goal of 150 minutes of any cardiovascular activity a week. It's easier to achieve than you think – for example, it's a 30-minute walk five times a week; 15 minutes of moderate intensity 10 times a week; or two Zumba classes and one 30-minute walk.
- Keep a daily record of your exercise, noting what you did and for how long. You can write down any symptoms you had along the way and even a 15-second pulse count before and after you exercise.
- If you're walking, move in a continual and rhythmic motion, swinging your arms and striding evenly. Do not stroll and do not stop unless necessary.
- If your pulse rate at the end of your walk is higher than the upper limit pulse rate your exercise physiologist discusses with you, slow your walk. Talk to your physician if the heart rate is consistently over the level.
- Stay active all day. Sit less and move more.
- Follow a healthy eating plan. Do not walk immediately after meals. Wait at least 30 minutes.
- Warm up before exercising with gentle stretching.
If you want to start a weight training program, another exercise plan or if you have a medical condition, you should speak to your primary care provider first. In addition, if you develop any of the following symptoms during or after your exercise: call your provider.
- Excessive fatigue
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Any unusual joint, muscle or ligament problem
- Pain the chest, jaw, teeth, arms or ears
- Irregularity of the pulse
- Shortness of breath
If you have diabetes, if you have two or more risk factors for heart disease or if you are new to exercise, your program should be supervised by a clinical exercise physiologist, like McCarthy. They provide individual guidelines as you exercise and much-needed support.
"It's also a good idea for people to remember what motivates them to exercise in the first place – a better quality of life, feeling happier, feeling less stress, living longer, and family," McCarthy adds.
Lastly, she suggests that people keep a visual list of the benefits of exercise as motivation. These benefits include:
- Improved resting heart rate and blood pressure
- Strengthened heart
- Lowered percentage of body fat and weight control
- Lowered cholesterol levels and increased protective cholesterol (HDL) levels
- Increased muscle sensitivity to insulin which lowers blood sugar levels
- Increased energy level
- Sense of well-being and satisfaction
For more information or to schedule and appointment call 401-732-3066.