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Exercise and Your Health

Do you get enough exercise from your daily activities? The answer is most likely, NO. Some people are just beginning to discover the benefits of regular exercise. In our society, it has become commonplace to arise in the morning, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch television for a few hours, and then retire to bed only to do the same thing the next day.

Most Americans get some sort of exercise at work or during recreational activities, but few offer a vigorous workout. People usually drive rather than walk, park closer to the store rather than at the end of the parking lot, and watch television rather than walk around the neighborhood. Most people would say they are very active, but many activities we perform on a daily basis will not give us the same benefits as regular vigorous exercise.

Research has indicated that there are long-term and short-term benefits to regular intense exercise that we would not normally get from activities we do at work or home on a regular basis. Every season on the television show "The Biggest Loser," very obese people who are on several different medications and have many different medical problems are able to get off all of the medications with intense exercise.

One of the major benefits of regular exercise is a reduced risk of heart attack or stroke. Regular vigorous exercise can also help lower cholesterol and high blood pressure. These are very important benefits when it comes to our health. Vigorous exercise gives you more energy, helps in coping with stress, anxiety, and depression, improves the ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep better, helps control appetite, helps build more stamina for other physical activities, and helps your heart and lungs work more effectively.

Vigorous or intense exercise does not mean you need to run like you are preparing for a marathon. Vigorous exercises may include activities such as swimming, brisk walking, running or jogging, jumping rope, bicycling, cross country skiing, and racket ball, and for some just walking around the block.

There are many other activities that you might perform besides those listed here. The object of the exercise is to get moving more than what you would normally do during a regular day. Vigorous exercise should raise your heart rate up somewhere between 100-130 beats per minute and then keep it there for 30 to 60 minutes. A combination of different exercises such as brisk walking for 15 minutes and riding a stationary bike for 15 minutes can also be used to accomplish this. You should choose activities that you enjoy.

Before you begin an exercise program, you may need to visit with your doctor if you have any health problems that limit your physical activities. Otherwise, I recommend getting started slowly. Start your activity with a warm-up session lasting at least five minutes. For example, begin walking at a moderate pace for five minutes before accelerating to a brisk walk.

If you have not been exercising and you choose walking for your activity, begin your workout with five minutes of warm-up followed by 10 minutes of brisk walking, and then end the session with a cool down of five minutes of moderate walking. Do this for several days or until the workout becomes easier and then increase the workout time to 15 or 20 minutes. Do whatever is most comfortable to you but work towards the goal of 30-60 minutes. Ideally, we should exercise on a daily basis, but start off with two or three times per week and work your way into exercising five to six times per week.

The hardest part of an exercise program is not giving up. Let me share with you some keys to success that I have witnessed through my experience. First of all, find some activities that you enjoy doing but will also raise your heart rate as you do them. Second, find someone to exercise with. Other people can help you stay motivated to exercise. Third, choose a time that best fits into your schedule and try to keep the same time every session. Fourth, frequently remind yourself why you are exercising and the benefits you will get from it. Finally, enjoy yourself!

For more information on exercise and the benefits to your health, stop by Castleview Hospital's Physical Therapy and Wellness Center in Price or Castleview Hospital's Emery Medical Center Physical therapy Department in Castle Dale and ask for more information. All of the therapists at these locations are trained and specialized in exercise and setting up programs and we are here to help you.

This article was written by Doctor Brian Powell, director of rehabilitation at Castleview Hospital Wellness Center

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