Let’s Get Physical, Physical!
By: Stetson T. Thacker, PhD • Posted on August 04, 2014
Physical exercise is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and has a multitude of other physical, emotional, and psychological benefits. But why do so many of us not get enough physical activity? The CDC announced their finding that approximately 80% of adult Americans are not getting the recommended exercise. Many causes of weight gain are not from eating too much, but from not exercising enough! This is a trend we can change and you personally, can take the reins to direct your destiny of a healthier, happier you.
"I Don't Have Time to Exercise"
There are a myriad of reasons why folks are not getting the exercise they need. I have heard many of these excuses:
- “I don’t have the time.”
- “I don’t enjoy exercise.”
- “Exercise is painful and boring to me.”
I recently mentioned to my Mom that if she intensified her lower body workouts, she would likely stabilize her knee cap movement that was bothering her and she exclaimed, “But I don’t want to get bigger thighs!” So, even well-educated folks like my physician Mom may have some exercise misconceptions.
Women can strengthen and tone their muscles without "bulking up.” I understand most women are not looking to build a larger physique.
This is your body, your health and your life. So don’t compromise your health by scrimping on physical exercise. Your quality of life and the physical and mental benefits you will experience with exercise will help reinforce and make exercise a regular part of your lifestyle.
Tips to Exercise Effectively & Efficiently
Here is some straightforward, simple advice that will not only revolutionize your knowledge of how to exercise effectively and efficiently, but also to help change the psychology with which you approach exercise.
- Typical fitness recommendations are simple and seem accomplishable, but they fail to provide enough information about what you should actually be doing in the gym, weight room, fitness center or in the comfort and privacy of your home. The American Heart Association recommends the following exercise guidelines:
- 25 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 times a week at a vigorous intensity or 30 to 40 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 times a week at a moderate intensity
- At least 2 days of moderate to high intensity resistance (weighted) training
These recommendations are great, but not very detailed. They create a great ambiguity about the intensity of training and may also give some individuals the psychological leeway to tell themselves that they don’t have to work out at a high intensity to gain health benefits.
- The fact of the matter is that you should train at your maximum potential as much as you can for as long as you can if you want to see significant health and fitness results in a reasonable window of time. As my younger brother and fellow fitness enthusiast says, “You have to burn it, to earn it!”
- I am not suggesting that you exercise in a manner that is dangerous, and you should consult a physician before beginning any new training regimen; however, I strongly suggest that your regimen push you at an intensity that will generate an increased heart rate and body temperature within a target range (equal to or above 70% of your maximum heart rate, which is your age subtracted from 220) and induce muscle fatigue.
- You may want to start out with a trained fitness trainer or an experienced person who can observe your weight lifting form. And there's always YouTube videos of examples how to lift weights and how not to lift weights.
7 Shortcuts to Physical Fitness and a Fitter You!
- Perform weight training at least four days a week. This boosts metabolism. You will not get bigger thighs, I promise, just a more toned look.
- Focus on core muscles (the shoulders, torso, and upper leg)
- Listen to music while exercising. There is research showing more neural synchronicity in exercisers who listen to music. It does not have to be Olivia Newton- John’s “Let’s Get Physical,” but it can be!
- Perform aerobic exercises after resistance training about 3 to 4 times a week.
- Vary your aerobic exercises to increase focus and stave off boredom.
- Stay hydrated. Carry a water bottle of water with you.
- Incorporate weight training alternating with intense bursts of aerobic exercise. For example, after weight lifting for 5 minutes jump on treadmill for 5 minutes.
- Plan, set and track. Plan exercises out beforehand, set goals and track progress in a journal just like you do in other areas of your life.
- Don’t make excuses. Put yourself and your exercise needs first. Exercise with a friend or keep a buddy system going to keep you motivated.
- Create and plan a healthy diet - more on that and supplement use in my next column. In that column, I will focus on exercise physiology, aids to energy and whether one should use supplement before and after exercise.
Be Strong, Be Healthy, Be in Charge!
-Stetson T. Thacker, PhD
Stetson Thacker holds a PhD in Molecular Medicine from Case Western Reserve University. He studies PTEN mutation as an inherited risk factor for autism spectrum disorders and cancer at the Lerner Research Institute. Stetson's research can be found at his ORCID page or his Google Scholar profile. You can follow Stetson on Twitter at @stetson_thacker.
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