Exercise, as discussed in the lifestyle section, increases circulation, muscle strength, longevity, mood, etc. The health benefits of exercise are dependent upon the frequency, intensity and duration of the exercise, not to mention the type of activity. Before entering a workout program, make sure you use an appropriate amount of intensity to reach your desired effect.
Aerobic activity is one of the best methods for improving the ability of the heart, lungs and blood vessels to function at an optimal level during exercise and at rest. This form of activity helps with the delivery of oxygen to tissue, thus ensuring that energy demands are being met. Continuous, rhythmic activity performed at an appropriate intensity in order to increase cardiac output is an essential criterion for aerobic exercise (ex. cycling, running, cross-country skiing, skating, hiking, etc.).
Tips to Improve Cardio Conditioning:
- Know your Intensity: calculate your maximum heart rate (MHR) to know which range will apply the appropriate amount of strenuous exercise. This range should be between 60%-90% of your MHR, also referred to as comfortable-hard. Subtract your age from 220 and then multiply this figure by 0.60 and 0.90 to yield your target heart rate. Ex. 220-35=185 beats per min (bpm), 185 x 0.6= 111 & 185 x 0.9=166.5. Your target is between 111bpm- 166bpm.
- Duration: Warm-up and cool-down should each be from 5-10 min.
- children ages 5 to 11 and youth ages 12 to 17 should:
- accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily
- include vigorous-intensity activities at least 3 days per week.
- adults aged 18 to 64 should:
- accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in 10 minutes bouts or more.
- Frequency: daily sessions are recommended. Note: if first starting out it is important to take a day off to allow the body to rest and recuperate. Work up towards the appropriate intensity, duration and frequency. Always check in with yourself.
Anaerobic activity includes effective exercises that use resistance to build muscle and bone. Anaerobic exercise does not use oxygen for energy and therefore is not done for long periods at a time. Lactic acid is produced as a by-product which can affect muscle action and function. These types of exercises use muscles at high intensity for short periods of time. Muscular strength and endurance are two important aspects of any exercise program. These help strengthen the body for the requirements of daily life and prevent the loss of lean body tissue that often occurs with age.
Tips to Improve Muscular Conditioning
- Intensity: the weight should be enough to be able to perform 5 to 15 repetitions. You would like the muscle to feel a little tired or to burn toward the end of your reps.
- Duration: one to three sets of 5 to 15 repetitions are often performed. Always rest for at least one minute between sets.
- Frequency: 3 to 5 days a week. Remember to always allow a muscle group to rest for one day before returning to that program (e.g. Monday -lower body workout. Tuesday- upper body workout )
- Children complete activities to strengthen muscle and bone at least three days per week.
When beginning a new exercise program, you may find that you are not able to complete all of the exercises as often or for the desired length of time as you would like. It is important to begin slowly and progress up to your fitness goals. Doing too much too fast can lead to injury, pain and the abandonment of your exercise program. Take your time and enjoy the endorphin energy boost. Remember to stretch after your workout. This step is quite often skipped over, but it is necessary to maintain proper range of motion in your joints. Finally, please do not forget to breathe throughout both the cardiovascular and muscular conditioning portions. Breathing is not only essential to life, but it also helps with the detoxification process.
- Pizzorno & Murray. Textbook of Natural Medicine. 3rd ed. Vol. I. Churchill Livingstone. 2006.