Saturday, February 26, 2011
Fitness can be Fun!
Here is the latest Get Fit email from Dr. Jacobs.
The fun side of fitness
It's not just hitting the gym anymore. Dancing, ice skating, skiing, even exercising with a partner may help you keep your resolution.
By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times
Put away the eggnog and break out the sneakers — it's New Year's resolution time, and no doubt millions have made the pledge to get fit. Many of them will join a gym only to find they're bored with the monotony of cardio equipment and weight training routines.
But exercise shouldn't be drudgery. Plenty of pleasurable activities deliver a legitimate workout without the hamster-on-a-wheel feeling. Surfing, kayaking, ballroom dancing, trail running and self-defense classes are just a few ways to avoid a fitness rut or supplement a regular gym workout. Some offer other benefits too, such as being outside, expanding one's social network and building confidence by mastering a new skill.
"Exercise doesn't have to be boring," says Shawn M. Arent, director of the Human Performance Lab at Rutgers University in New Jersey. "It can be fun and addictive in a good way."
For the rank beginner, calculating cardiovascular benefits or measuring muscle strength shouldn't be the priority. "Get out and do something," says Matt Seeley, exercise science professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. "Try to incorporate 15 minutes of some activity. Don't worry so much about what you're doing — I would call going from nothing to 15 minutes a success. Then start to increase that."
Seeley adds that as stamina and strength build, activities should vary to target different muscle groups and toggle between aerobic (moderately paced endurance exercise) and anaerobic (short bursts of high-intensity exercise) workouts. "I recognize that when I go fishing, that uses different muscles from racquetball."
For more experienced exercisers who do want to quantify things, Arent suggests getting an inexpensive heart rate monitor to gauge workout levels. You can also gauge how hard your body is working based on how hard you're breathing and how much you're sweating (what fitness experts called rate of perceived exertion). Keep in mind that the more fit you become, the more efficiently your body will work: If a half-hour of trail running used to make you perspire like a farm animal a few months ago but now you're hardly glowing, it's time to up the time, intensity or both.
Workouts with mental components can be great stress-relievers. While concentrating on paddling a kayak through a current or staying upright on a snowboard, there simply isn't room to think about your irrational boss or that lingering to-do list. "Exercise is excellent for reducing stress and anxiety," Arent says.