14 January 2014 Exercise is Medicine. Take the Weekly Challenge!

Exercise is medicine (YouTube). Did you know that no current drug or medicine provides as many health benefits as a regular physical activity program? How do your weekly physical fitness activities compare to the American College of Sports Medicine recommendations?

Are you sitting yourself to death?

Sedentary death syndrome or “SeDS” is a term developed to diagnose the growing epidemic of physical inactivity and its relationship to chronic, preventable diseases. Physical inactivity is a major public health problem and linked to many health complications, such as high blood pressure, type two diabetes, and heart disease. Thankfully, consistent physical activity has proven to both prevent and treat chronic diseases.

The wellness committee at one business that I work for encourages employees with desk jobs to:

Sit for 60... Move for 1, 2, 3
Moving your body for three minutes for every hour you sit is good for you!
Go ahead, try it now! Get up from your computer and stretch!

In the early 1900's, infectious diseases, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis were the most common causes of death. Thanks to modern medicine many of these diseases of infancy have been eliminated. As we started to enjoy the “good life” of more sedentary living, alcohol, tobacco, excessive sweets and fatty foods, there was a parallel increase in the incidence of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and Type 2 Diabetes.

If your family has a history of type two diabetes and you are a little overweight, your risk for developing the same disease is greater. However, with consistent exercise, healthy eating habits, and weight loss, you can change that outcome.

Start the Weekly Challenge!

Step 1: Fill out this chart for one week, organizing your exercise activities into three categories: cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility (stretching).

Step 2: Compare your weekly workout patterns with the guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

Cardiovascular: Did you get increase your heart rate for 150 minutes this week? This could also mean 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise for 5 days per week.

Strength: Did you participate in strength training two times this week?

Flexibility (Stretching): Did you stretch two times this week?

Remember to strengthen what you stretch and stretch what you strengthen.

Step 3: Make one small goal for next week. For example:

  1. If you walked for 30 minutes for two days this week, next week try to increase to 35 minutes.
  2. If you did not do strength training last week, start with soup cans. Do 15 repetitions for each arm.
  3. If you did not stretch last week, try touching your toes for 15-30 seconds after a warm shower.
Step 4: Challenge yourself with just one small change each week for four weeks. Print out 4 charts.

In a 10-week fitness and wellness class that I teach at a local community college, my students fill out the chart on a weekly basis with different realistic goals each week. After accomplishing a goal, the students were motivated to challenge themselves in a new way the next week. Plus, their grade depended on it! Here are some of their goals:

  • Walk for five minutes, two times per day.
  • Try a new fitness activity. Many students really enjoy Zumba!
  • Register now for a 10 kilometer run in the spring. Train for it now.
  • Walk three blocks. Jog one block. Walk three blocks. Jog one block.
  • Stretch three different muscle groups after lifting weights.
  • Complete ten sit-ups and ten push-ups. Increase one each day for a week.
  • Actually do one of the exercise videos, I received for a Christmas present!

Each week students would proudly share their goals met. Accountability was key to their success. Ask a friend to be your “accountability coach”. Your coach's duty is just to say, “Good job, keep it up! What do you want to challenge yourself with next week?”

Exercise is medicine. Take the weekly challenge and follow your prescription to exercise!

I have been sitting for an hour. It's time for me to “Move for 1, 2, 3” and to stretch and climb the stairs!

Martha Henze

MS, RD, Traveling Taste Buds, LLC

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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