Mar - Apr 2011

Activity: An Ongoing Commitment to Optimal Health

By Marynia S. Wronski, PT


Day-to-day life generally does not give our bodies the activity we need for optimal health.  Consequently, we need to purposely introduce activities into life. For well-rounded fitness, activity selection should include elements of endurance, strength, flexibility, balance and coordination.


Endurance exercise is often a good place to start. Focus on establishing a good frequency – five to seven days a week – for improvement. Get in the habit of blocking out part of your schedule for activity. Don’t worry, initially, about how hard to push or how long to go. Pay attention to how your body feels. It should feel neither easy nor hard, but moderate. 


Once you are comfortable with frequency, focus on building your duration to 30 minutes or more of continuous activity. Add minutes before adding intensity. After your goals for frequency and duration are attained, gradually build the intensity (speed, grade and resistance). As you progress your exercise, make one change at a time. Make sure your body is tolerating each change before adding more.


Sustaining a successful activity routine is easier when it is fun. Whether enjoying solitude or companionship, select activities and settings that enrich your day. Have a backup plan for bad weather or last-minute schedule conflicts. Lastly, don’t let your initial enthusiasm or determination cause you to be too aggressive. This could delay your recovery or dampen enthusiasm. 


Once you have established a good endurance routine, you may be surprised at how little extra time is required to add flexibility and strength training into your routine for a well rounded program. In general, the same principles for progression will apply to these areas. Work on frequency, then duration (or repetitions for strength exercises) and intensity. If unfamiliar with these activities, seek out instruction before starting a program. Hospital-based rehabilitation programs, private health clubs and trainers, community education, books, tapes and your bariatric program are sources for guidance.