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Physical activity is key to improving the health of our country. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the gold standard in exercise guidelines, standards and prescription, promotes regular exercise as one of the most important things people can do to improve their overall health. Sitting less and moving more has tremendous benefits for people of all ages, races, ethnicities and fitness levels. Current research has linked physical activity with positive health outcomes more than we previously thought. It doesn’t take much to make a change in your health either. Research shows that exercising for even 10 minutes at a time can have drastic effects on your overall well-being.

What types of activity and how often?

The ACSM recommends that healthy adults exercise on most days of the week. This means at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity. For additional health benefits adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity or 150 minutes per week of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity. Some examples may include walking, running, swimming, biking or rowing. It’s also important to incorporate resistance training at least 2-3 days per week utilizing all major muscle groups for 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Resistance training can be done by utilizing dumbbells, resistance bands, weight machines or even body weight exercises. Flexibility is often the component that gets missed but it’s important to incorporate flexibility on most days of the week as well. Flexibility exercise can include static stretching, yoga or Pilates.

How to get started?

First off, visit your primary care physician to make sure you are able to tolerate exercise. It’s important to schedule an annual physical with your doctor. He or she will be able to tell you if it’s safe for you to start an exercise program. This will also help you to assess your fitness level. Next you’ll want to consider your fitness goals. You’ll need to ask yourself what your overall goal will be. Are you starting an exercise routine to lose weight, to run a marathon or just increase your overall health? Having a clear goal will help you gauge your progress and stay motivated. Creating a balanced routine is next. Be sure to incorporate variety into your daily exercise routine. You’ll want to make sure to start slowly and progress as tolerated. It’s a great idea to consult an exercise physiologist to help design and implement a structured, safe, effective exercise prescription. The key to how much exercise is needed is to be as active as possible.

Wellness Aware

UnityPoint Health - Trinity Wellness coaches assist in addressing community wellness needs to take full control of their health and reach a higher quality of life. It could be to train for fitness events, learn dietary and exercise approaches to help lower blood pressure and/or cholesterol, weight management, or assessing health-related risks. The WeightAware Program, for example, invites Quad-Citians to complete an online risk assessment and take advantage of the guidance and coaching the Wellness team offers to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. It's easier than ever to keep track of health goals and achieve a healthier lifestyle.

At UnityPoint Health – Trinity, our mission is to improve the health of the people and communities we serve by providing the highest quality health care possible. To find a provider who can help you in your wellness journey, visit unitypoint.org.

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Shannon Lehman, MS, ACSM-CEP, CWHC, is a wellness coach at UnityPoint Health Trinity.

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