We all know we should exercise and most of think we actually do exercise, but what actually counts. First off, I have really sick, unhealthy patients who grew up in a society that says eat meat with every meal and fry it all! For my population of patients, I am excited just getting them off the couch for 10 minutes per day.
There are two goals of exercise; first, raise your heart rate and second, build lean muscle.
Lets start with your heart rate, or aerobic exercise. How many times have you been to the gym and watched the person on the elliptical talking on the phone! This does not count as aerobic exercise. The definition of aerobic is “with oxygen”. Your breathing must supply the oxygen your muscles need so as you exercise, your breathe faster. This gets oxygen to your blood. Your heart starts beating faster getting the oxygenated blood to your working muscles. With aerobic exercise, you should be able to maintain your pace for at least a several minutes.
For those of us that don’t have a heart rate monitor, just ask yourself, am I uncomfortable? You should feel your heart beating, you should not be able to speak a full sentence without feeling short of breath. These are not signs to stop exercising, these are signs that you are actually doing something!
I recommend purchasing a heart rate monitor if you feel as if you are working out but aren’t losing any pounds or inches. This will show you how good your workouts really are. When you elevate your heart rate, you are increasing your cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association recommends 30 mins of aerobic exercise 5 days per week, or a total of 150 mins per week. If you have chronic health conditions, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, increase your goal to 40 minutes per day to help lower these numbers.
Types of Exercise
Often my patients say they can’t run or walk because of knee or back pain. That’s ok, there are tons of aerobic exercises out there! Swimming is great of those who have knee or back pain. Going to a gym with a heated pool, like at the Y, allows you to have access to working out all year around, no more it’s too hot or too cold as an excuse! If you don’t like swimming, try jogging, jumping rope, spin class, outdoor cycling, jogging, walking, running, or hiking. Like group exercise? Zumba, dance class, step class, kickboxing… There are so many options, saying you don’t like running is not an excuse to stay on your butt all day.