What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word “exercise”? If you are like most Americans, the word exercise conjures up an image of sweating, discomfort, hurting. Other people think that exercise means you must “run”, an activity that few people are physically able to do safely. The reason the word exercise has such a negative connotation is because health fitness professionals have historically made exercise such an unpleasant activity that people are now conditioned to think of unlikable things when they hear that word. Although exercise (and yes, it can be enjoyable) is critical for improving your fitness, what the typical overweight, out-of-shape American can benefit from is not improving their fitness but improving their health.
Fitness refers to our body’s ability to perform high levels of activity such as running a 3-mile race or lifting heavy weights. What the majority of Americans need to do to improve the quality and quantity of their lives is to improve their health, not their fitness. An individual’s overall health is best indicated by their blood chemistry which includes blood sugar levels, total cholesterol and blood pressure. This is a reflection of what is often referred to as metabolic fitness. One of the best ways to improve your health is through physical activity.
Physical activity refers to any bodily movement involving your muscles that burns calories. Excellent examples of physical activity are walking to the store or bank, mowing the lawn, working around the house, going outside and playing with the kids, etc.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (1996) states that all Americans should accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate- intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week. This minimal amount of physical activity has been shown to improve your health by decreasing high blood pressure, decreasing total cholesterol, lowering your bad cholesterol (LDL) while raising your good cholesterol (HDL), minimizing the risk of diabetes, and, if you have diabetes, decreasing your blood sugar levels.
The beauty of being physically active to improve your health is that it can be accomplished by accumulating 30 minutes of physical activity. What that means is that you can walk your children to school in the morning (10 minutes total), perform a short walk at lunch time while at work (10 minutes total) and go outside with the kids after school and play tag (10 minutes total) to accumulate the 30 minutes needed to improve your overall health. You may need to make some slight modifications to your busy schedule, but accumulating the necessary time to improve your health is within your reach. It’s that easy so “Get Moving Tucumcari!”
Tom Morris is the health and wellness facility coordinator at Mesalands Community College. Contact him at:firstname.lastname@example.org