By Nancy Rocha, BS MS
As you begin to incorporate fitness into you healthier lifestyle, we want be sure you are exercising smart. We seldom know what to do when it comes to frequency of exercise, intensity of exercise or the type of exercise we should perform. For maximum benefits, the American College of Sports Medicine has outlined specific recommendations for us to follow.
Cardiovascular fitness is the first and most important type of exercise we should do. Cardiovascular disease and related conditions can be prevented by engaging in an exercise regimen which includes cardiovascular fitness. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends cardiovascular exercise three to five times per week with a duration of at least 20 continuous minutes per bout. This will keep the heart, the lungs working at their optimum and the circulatory system healthy. Some examples of cardiovascular exercise include: brisk walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, cycling and cardio kickboxing. Your heart must be pumping, you should be mildly out of breath and definitely sweating.
Resistance training is just as important to your muscles as cardiovascular training is for your heart. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, a routine to condition and strengthen your muscles should be done two to three times per week. Each session of training should include working most major muscle groups i.e. biceps, triceps, chest, back, shoulders, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and abdominal muscles. To prevent any muscular imbalances, exercising should include strengthening the lower and upper body muscles as well as the anterior and posterior muscles. As you continue to perform your designed program, be sure to include a progressive overload—slow challenge over time—and add it to your routine. For example, if you begin performing bicep curls with two-pound dumbbells, as time progresses and you are no longer challenged, increase to three-pound dumbbells.
After cardiovascular or resistance training is performed, you must always include a post-workout stretch for flexibility. This ensures the muscles will be returned to original length and you will minimize the dreaded soreness most people experience after exercising. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends one stretch per muscle group performed three to five times held for ten to thirty seconds. Stretching should not be painful, but the muscle should be lengthened to a point of mild discomfort. When done properly, the muscles will begin to experience increased flexibility and this will transfer not only to a better ability to exercise, but also in performing activities of daily living and improved posture.
Engaging in a routine exercise program offers many benefits to the body. The key to not doing too much or too little is to exercise smart. Effective designing, planning and implementing of an exercise program is easy when you follow the simple guidelines offered by the American College of Sports Medicine. Remember, it is always important to reassess your routine to continue to achieve maximum results. If you need assistance, contact your bariatric program to speak with a physical therapist or exercise physiologist.