2009-10-02 / Columnists

Rockaway Walks Fitness Column

Exercise To Improve Flexibility, Strength And Endurance
Commentary By Steven McCartney, IPO, HSW, MS

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the definition of health is physical, mental, and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmary.

Health related fitness consists of five components: Strength; Muscle endurance; Cardio respiratory or Cardiovascular endurance (Aerobic exercise such as walking, biking, swimming, dancing, which works most of body); Flexibility (to stretch or loosen muscles and joints); and Body Composition (percent of body fat).

When we don't exercise we age. There are several theories about what causes aging: Genetic Theory (present number of healthy cell division before damage and death occurs); Wear and Tear Theory (life long damage to cells and organs); Endocrine/Hormonal Theory (decline in function leads to deterioration); and Immune Theory (decreasing ability to detect and fight pathogens).

Guidelines for fitness testing and exercise prescription consist of medical status (medical history, lifestyle and health and fitness goal). Health Risk Assessment, in addition to identifying past and present medical problems, is important to determine medical conditions or diseases to which a person is prone, based on overall health, physical activity and exercise, physical fitness, nutrition, body weight, psychological health, social health, substance abuse, and personal health and safety. Goal setting following the assessment of medical status and lifestyle, should establish a set of reasonable health and fitness goals. It is important to set small, achievable goals to maintain motivation.

Having a fitness assessment or portfolio allows you to learn about your present health status (baseline measurement). This should include monitoring resting heart rate, and target heart rate; monitoring blood pressure, weight, height, body composition, body mass index (BMI) or Waist to Hips Ratio (WHR); and strength assessments. After performing fitness assessment to determine your individual baseline it becomes easy to participate safely in an exercise program as an active manager to your health.

our medical doctor can recommend you to a fitness center, or continuing education program at a local university for an insured personal trainer that can perform an assessment for you.

General exercise prescription for a healthy individual consists of (1) warm-up 5-10 minutes (including stretching exercise). (2) Cool down 5- 10 minutes helps redistribute blood (including stretching exercises). (3) Intensity (how hard to work): 55-90% of maximum heart rate. (4) Duration (how long to do this work): 15-60 minutes (progress based on fatigue and heart rate) (5) Frequency (how often to do this work): 3-5 times per week. (6) Type: Aerobic - weight bearing or nonweight bearing.

Guidelines must be adjusted accordingly for those with disability or disease. Before starting any exercise program, individuals with disability or disease should consult a physician. Exercise recommendation for people with arthritis limited by joint pain should exercise only in absence of pain (alternate exercise to body parts that are not causing pain).

It is important to preserve function by maintaining range of motion of all joints. Increase intensity as pain tolerance allows: Activities such as non weight bearing swimming, cycling or flexibility and strength core exercise program.

Pain from exercise known as Delay Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a natural reaction of muscle recovery 12- 48 hours after exposure to exercise and mild muscle aches during first weeks of exercise. Remember rest is a integral part of any exercise program. However, watch for unhealthy reactions and signs of exertion: including pain two hours after exercise, excessive fatigue, increased weakness, joint swelling, chest pain or palpitations, severe shortness of breath, dizziness and nausea.

Exercise tips: Move slowly, stretch until you feel tension - hold briefly; organize your exercise so you don't have to change positions a lot; perform the same number of repetitions on both sides of body; don't hold breath. Exercise shouldn't make you hurt more after you're done. If you do, next time do fewer repetitions or don't stretch as much and do not exercise on a full stomach.

Exercise may not be pain-free. Start where your exercise can be adapted for individual needs, and progress slowly, set a goal of 15 minutes without stopping.

To ensure your success when exercising stay prepared (keep a exercise journal) by doing gentle warm ups, engage in deep breathing and relaxation, massage, apply heat or cold, and wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Make an exercise action plan that states your goal and includes your chosen exercises, the time and place to exercise, and how long you will stick with this plan. Eight to 12 weeks is a reasonable time commitment for a new program.

Share your action plan with your family and friends. Lifelong learners join group classes like flexibility and strength core exercise classes, yoga, self defense, tai chi, pilates, and aquatics. Overall benefits help increase or improve your digestive system, appearance, posture, body composition, and feeling of well-being while managing certain chronic diseases such as arthritis.

For questions or concerns, E-mail me at: steven_mccartney@walkprograms. com.

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