September 2, 2016

Start exercising with ‘Rock the Walk’

General Health

Happy September everyone!

It’s crazy to think the kiddos are back to school, football is starting up and the days are getting shorter—what!? WHERE DID THE SUMMER GO?!
For me, summer is a little more ‘loosy goosy’ with schedules. Between sporting events, BBQ’s, grad parties, weddings, and “let’s go to the beach today because we can” days, the routine is a bit off and unfortunately my exercise regime suffers too. Now that the schedule has leveled out, I find it can be hard to get back on track with exercising.

I know I do better with exercising if I have a motivator—whether that’s a vacation coming up, a 5k race or a friend who really wants to exercise. There’s just something about having that push and drive that helps keep me focused and to help get that first step forward with starting something new.
A cool motivator that Fort HealthCare is offering to the area communities is an exercise challenge called “Rock the Walk”. This is a FREE (let me repeat, free!) challenge that encourages individuals to start moving or to continue with their exercise regimes.

The rules are simple:

  1. Sign up for challenge.
  2. Commit to completing the ‘required’ tasks each week, which include exercising for 150 minutes a week and completing a quiz each week after reading the education.
  3. Be eligible for winning cool prizes.

….that’s it! Totally doable, right?

Some of you may be caught up on the “150 minutes of exercise a week”, and it seems like a lot, especially if you have not exercised in a while. In reality, it breaks down to just under 22 minutes a day and you can start slow with this. Whether you’re sprinting or walking slowly—exercise is exercise, moving is moving.

For the “already exercisers” reading this, this challenge is a great way for you to continue with your exercise regime, and maybe even help you increase the amount of time or days that you are exercising. I’m not saying you need to exercise 7 hours a day, but if you’re exercising 3 days a week, this is a great way to encourage yourself to aim for 4-5 days, or if your workouts are 30 minutes, aim for 35 or 40 for extra calorie-torching.

For the “I-used-to-exercise-and-I-fell-off-the-bandwagon-awhile-ago” or “Yea-I’ve-never-exercised-a-day-in-my-life-and-I’m-not-sure-where-to-start” individuals reading this, this is a great opportunity to start fresh, and to begin an exercise regime. My recommendations for starting an exercise program are:

  1. Get clearance from your primary care provider. They can identify any concerns that may affect your exercise, and help work with you to identify anything you need to be aware of while exercising.
  2. Pick your poison. What type of exercise are you interested in?  Are you the type that you want to exercise alone, or would you do better in a fitness class. Lots of equipment, or little. People who engage in exercise that they like, will look forward to it, and will (hopefully!) stick with it longer.
  3. Get the right gear.  Are you going to start walking? Biking? Running? Hiking? Taking a kick-boxing class? Good shoes, comfy clothes and a sweet water bottle are a must.
  4. Warm up/Cool down.  It’s important to gradually warm up your muscles and increase your heart rate (and decrease it after class) to prep your body for exercise, and to help avoid injury and extra soreness.
  5. Start slow. If you decide that you want to start exercising, starting with 15-20 minutes a few times a week is a great idea instead of starting with 60. If you are beginning a running journey, not increasing your mileage too early will help keep your body from being unbearably sore and will help to prevent injury.  The same goes for fitness classes—start with 1 or 2 instead of signing up for 10. You can always work your way up, and if you are injured or burn yourself out early, you may lose that motivation.
  6. Listen to your body. You know yourself better than anyone, and exercise should not make you feel like you are dying. Sweating, a quicker heart rate and dare-I-say happiness after from the good endorphins are all normal. Lightheadedness, chest pain, and difficulty breathing are signs that you need to stop and talk to you doctor asap.
  7. HAVE FUN! I cannot stress this enough—if you are not enjoying the exercise, then you are less likely to continue doing it. Find a workout buddy to walk with or try a class, or ask your significant other or child to join you.

Even if you decide the Rock the Walk challenge is not for you, think about ways that you can add extra steps and exercise into your day. Simple ways are parking further at work or the grocery store, taking the steps instead of the elevator, and walking at your break/lunch. I personally enjoy a good exercise session before work—by getting up just a bit earlier and exercising, sets the tone for the day and makes me feel more alert and ready to tackle the day. If that’s not for you, schedule a bit of time for yourself at night and enjoy the positives that come along the way. Exercise benefits your body in a multitude of ways, and your health is something that should be made a priority.

Until next time!