November 12, 2007

Is Starting a New Exercise Program Your New Years Resolution?

Is Starting a New Exercise Program Your New Years Resolution? Photo courtesy of USDA, ARSIs Starting a New Exercise Program Your New Years Resolution? - Struggling with your New Year's resolution to attend aerobics class five times a week, or run two miles a day?

A Kansas State University professor says if you haven't been active, and you are beginning a new exercise program, take it slow and start out by adding activities you enjoy.

"I think you have to get away from the idea that you have to go and start a structured exercise program because it's the new year," said David Dzewaltowski, head of K-State's kinesiology department.

"Fifty percent of those who start an exercise program drop out within the first few weeks. A few stay eight weeks or so, but after six months most people drop out of those programs. And the reason they drop out is because they try to start an activity they think is the best thing for them to do."

Dzewaltowski says a much better strategy is to find something you like to do that happens to include activity. However, the catch is that the lower the intensity, the longer you have to do it.

"An hour's worth of gardening, depending on how hard you're gardening, may be equivalent to a 20-minute walk," said Dzewaltowski. "So you can get rid of exercise by working real hard three days a week, or by just building activity throughout the day and increasing your active lifestyle."
"If you are starting an exercise program and you haven't been active, I would recommend during the winter months to start increasing your activity and do more things that you enjoy," Dzewaltowski said, "whether that is walking outside, going to the mall and doing more walking, or taking the stairs more often."

Find an activity that fits into your lifestyle that you can do for 30 minutes most days of the week, Dzewaltowski added. "You could break that 30 minutes up so you're doing 10-minute walks or 10-minute sessions of exercise in your house -- those sorts of things."

Dzewaltowski cites the Centers for Disease Control and the surgeon general's recent report advocating moderate activity for 30 minutes on most days of the week.

"This means getting out and moving, maybe with brisk walking for 30 minutes on most days of the week," he said. "And if you are already doing that, it would be important to add a vigorous exercise session three days a week, and try to reach your target heart rate."

Used with permission.
Photo courtesy of USDA, ARS

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