To Your Health
April, 2010 (Vol. 04, Issue 04)
What Is Your Basic Fitness Level?
Have you been participating in an exercise program at least three times a week for 45 minutes daily? If the answer is no, then you are considered a beginner.
If you train anywhere from four to six days a week for approximately 45 minutes a day, then you are considered a novice exercise enthusiast. If you are participating in exercise greater than four to six days a week for longer than 45 minutes a day, or you are participating in a competitive sport, then you are considered an advanced exercise enthusiast.
(By the way, if you are training 4 to 6 days a week longer than 2-3 hours a day, you are likely suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder. That may seem rather harsh, but it is likely very true. Also keep in mind that the human body does not respond favorably to exercise that is longer than 60 minutes on a daily basis. It will elevate your cortisol levels and likely cause more harm than benefit.)
If you are interested in getting your child started on a regular exercise program, it may be time; consider that approximately one-third of all children in the United States are considered overweight. Most children who are simply overweight can participate in any exercise program; however, children who are obese should consider nutritional guidance prior to beginning an exercise program. Most trainers can offer general suggestions for eating habits, but they cannot indicate a specific diet for someone to follow. Only a physician and a registered dietitian are licensed to be able to carry out this duty legally. It is important to understand that diet has more influence on your body's appearance than exercise. For example, one-half of an average bagel is approximately 200 calories; most individuals would have to run a mile at an intense rate to burn just 200 calories.
What Is Your Age?
The extremely young athlete can recover from a significant amount of exercise in most cases; someone who is elderly will likely enter into the exercise program with a completely different set of needs to achieve their fitness level. For example, if you are over the age of 40, 50, you will likely need to spend time building up cardiovascular fitness. And flexibility is lost at an alarming rate when you pass the age of 35. If you are over the age of 60 or 70, balance, flexibility, coordination, and cardiovascular fitness become obstacles that must be overcome prior to beginning a weight-resistance program.
For anyone suffering from arthritis, it is better to focus on higher repetitions and less weight. Advance your exercise program by reducing the rest time needed between sets instead of trying to use more weight. Learn to flex your muscles while you train, or exercise on a vibrating surface. Both of these techniques will result in more muscle stimulation with less pressure on your joints.
For most people, it is best to start with one set. The repetitions should be high on any exercise. That means somewhere between 20 to 30 repetitions per exercise for approximately the first two weeks. This is necessary to build muscular coordination and allow specific chemical reactions to occur in the supporting tissues. You should always choose a weight that provides resistance, but allows for all of the repetitions to be completed. Make sure that you can do one set of every exercise for every body part for 20 to 30 repetitions for at least two weeks before advancing to the next level.
Most individuals who are over 40 years of age require a stress test to determine their cardiac fitness level. If you have any type of physical condition that requires an ongoing medication, it is important to speak to both your doctor and pharmacist prior to beginning an exercise program.
What Is Your Body Type?
Our bodies come in three basic shapes, skinny, muscular and plump. They actually have three scientific names: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph, respectively. Most individuals who are muscular will benefit from performing six to eight repetitions of resistance exercises. Most individuals who are skinny will benefit by only doing six repetitions. Most individuals who are plump will benefit by performing 12 to 20 repetitions. It is important to understand that your body type is a genetic code and that specific factors influence how many repetitions you should be doing to improve your general physique.