To stay healthy, keep moving!

And if you stop to smell the roses, jog in place.
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You've decided to make physical activity a part of your life. Congratulations! There is no longer any serious doubt about the impact of physical activity on health in general and on cardiovascular health in particular. Let's put this as simply as possible: an active lifestyle is a healthy lifestyle. Inactivity is hazardous to your health!

The benefits of regular exercise, and the harmful effects of sedentary living, have been documented in a multitude of persuasive scientific publications, including the landmark U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health, which warns Americans against the adverse health effects of sedentary living and encourages daily exercise. By making a commitment to becoming more active, you significantly improve your heath and well-being.

Some of the many benefits of increased physical activity, including aerobic and resistance training, are:

  • Increased stamina
  • Increased energy
  • Increased cardiovascular health
  • Increased bone and joint health
  • Increased strength
  • Improved posture
  • Increased ability to perform activities of daily living
  • Increased digestion
  • Improved hormonal function
  • Increased flexibility
  • Prevention of injuries
  • Aid in the prevention of falls
  • Increase in lean body mass
  • Decrease in fat mass
  • Greater psychological well-being

How often?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests that you perform aerobic exercise at least 3 to 5 times per week. You should also try to perform strength-building exercises 2 to 3 times per week. In addition to your organized exercise bouts, the ACSM recommends accruing at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. This includes yard work, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, preparing your meals, or parking far away at the mall.

How long?

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you perform aerobic exercise for 20 to 60 minutes for each of your aerobic exercise sessions. Your strength-building sessions should include a variety of exercises and may take only 20 minutes to perform.

How hard?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, aerobic exercise should be performed at 60 to 90 percent of your maximum effort. It is recommended that you perform low to moderate intensity exercise for a longer time rather than exercising at a higher intensity for a shorter period of time. One way to determine how hard you are exercising is by establishing your target heart rate. To do this, you can go to our assessment tool, "How fit are you?" Or you can do the calculations yourself and get a little mental exercise. Here's how:

Estimate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Multiply your estimated maximum heart rate by .6 and .7 to determine the range of heart rates that represents 60 percent to 70 percent of your estimated maximum heart rate. This range of heart rates represents an estimate of your aerobic exercising range. For, example, a 40-year-old woman would have a target range of 108 to 126 beats per minutes. Here's how: 220 - 40 (age) ="180" 180 X 0.60 ="108" (Low end of estimated aerobic activity range); 180 X 0.70 ="126" (High end of estimated aerobic activity range). The estimated aerobic activity range is 108 to 126 beats per minute.

The beat goes on

When you are exercising, your goal should be to keep your heart rate within your target range. During activity, measure your heart rate periodically to gauge how hard you are exercising. If your heart rate is below your target range, try to increase the effort of the activity increasing your speed or increasing the gradient you are moving against. If your heart rate is too high, you should do the opposite -- slow down or decrease the gradient you are working against.

Taking your pulse

Locate your radial pulse on the thumb side of your wrist. Count the number of times your heart beats in 10 seconds. Multiply this number by 6 to determine your heart rate in beats per minute.

Keep up the pace

In addition to your specific bouts of exercise, try to accumulate at least 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity. You are physically active any time you choose to use your own body to move about. Make all forms of physical activity a part of your daily life. Even if you have a desk job, you can be active without having to join a gym.

Here are some easy examples:

  • Park your car far away from the grocery store.
  • Take time to prepare your meals at home.
  • Perform your own yard work.
  • Carry your clubs if you go golfing.
  • Play with your children.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Walk up the escalator.

By trying to increase the activity required to perform your daily routine, you can greatly improve your health.

This program was developed by the Rippe Lifestyle Institute. Founded in 1985, by James M. Rippe, M.D. Rippe Lifestyle Institute is one of the leading health organizations in the world. For more information, the Web site address is:


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