Breaking Down Your Workout: Are You Getting the Right Amount of Exercise?
Could exercise be the best medicine? Well, a growing amount of research is finding that it does affect much more than your muscles, bones, and joints. (Conversely, there’s also some news about the effects of sitting too much.) An active lifestyle has clear benefits to reduce your risk of chronic health disease like heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. And if you need further proof to hit the gym, it can also diffuse symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety, and, essentially, improve your overall well-being. Ready to start working out? The American College of Sport Medicine has created these “F.I. T. T.” guidelines to help along the way:
Frequency: How often are you exercising? Aim for three to five times per week and hold yourself accountable — plug the time slot into your calendar and treat it just like any other appointment or commitment.
Intensity: How hard are you working out? Cardiovascular exercise comes in different forms: Moderate activities still allow you to carry on a conversation, like golf or gardening, whereas vigorous exercises like tennis or aerobics can increase your max heart rate to 80 or 90 percent.
Type: What type of exercise are you doing? Doing the same workout every time can encourage discipline and routine, while switching up a location or exercise can work different muscles and interest levels.
Time: What is the total amount of time you’re exercising? The government’s physical activity guidelines suggest dedicating at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity or 150 minutes of moderate to exercise each week. Schedule a specific time for working out whether it’s in the morning, over a lunch break, or in the evening — planning to exercise around the same time every day will help engrain it into your daily routine.
A few more tips: Make goals, track your progress through a journal or app, and don’t forget to reward yourself whether it’s shaving seconds off your mile or adding miles to your workout! Employ tactics to stay motivated whether it’s trying a new exercise or enlisting a friend or colleague in a “buddy system” at the gym. Finally, remember that stretching and strength training are just as important as the sweating. Taking care of these major muscle groups — legs, hips, back, chest, shoulder, abdomen, arms — will both prevent injury and optimize performance.
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