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Thread: Get Active! Useful info for those new or returning to activity

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2005
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    Exclamation Get Active! Useful info for those new or returning to activity

    Hi All.

    I have contributed to a few posts and replied to some PM's regarding getting active so I thought I‘d do a post with the basic information on getting active.

    I’m a sports science graduate but more importantly I’m also an avid exerciser myself with many years lay experience. I have worked in gyms, been a personal trainer, taught group exercise classes, been an exercise counselor with a large exercise on referral scheme, and more recently I have developed and coordinated exercise programmes for those with chronic diseases.

    I would therefore like to think of myself as having a little experience in promoting activity. However, I’m always open to learning new things and look forward to “debating” some of the advice offered up here, but in order to do that we are going to start with the basics…..

    Physical Activity: This is defined as essentially any bodily movement that uses energy so things like exercise and sports are up there however so is walking, washing the car etc

    Physical activity has many benefits including better health and reduced risk for some chronic conditions such as heart disease, it improves energy levels and results in better quality sleeping patterns, better mood and just generally “feeling better”.

    If you want to become more active there are questions you have to ask yourself as becoming active can be thought of as a journey with a different starting point and final destination that is as individual as you are and depends on your current activity level, health status, knowledge, skills, ability and desire.

    The current guidleinesfor promoting physical activity is based on the adoption of a two-stage approach to increasing activity and fitness levels in which two sets of messages and two broad target groups are identified:

    Stage 1: Active Living

    • Targets Adults who are currently inactive or not regularly active

    • Goal: Aim to accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity physical activity over the course of most days of the week.

    Stage 2: Regular Exercise

    • Targets Adults who are already doing regular moderate activities

    • Every week, aim to include 3 periods of vigorous intensity activity which last for at least 20 minutes

    If you are new or returning to activity then what you want to do is not set your sights too high, you don’t have to actually do too much to start making positive changes for your health. Intensity, progression and transition from general physical activity options are the key stumbling blocks to moving on to more difficult options such as the gym!

    Learning a new pattern of behaviour, like changing from a sedentary to an active lifestyle, normally requires modifying many of small behaviours that are steps toward a final goal. For example walking continuously for 30 minutes daily, can be learned by first breaking it down into smaller segments such as walking for 10 minutes before adding incremental increases, such as 5 minutes per week.

    Next: How difficult should it be?
    Last edited by s29feb; 15-04-2006 at 01:51 PM.
    Anyone seen my opteron?

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2005
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    How hard should it be?

    Consider the guideline in the previous post for 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week. The duration and frequency guidelines are very easily defined, however an intensity of “moderate” is vague. The intensity relates to the level of effort that you have to work at for benefits, however using terms such as “easy” and “moderate” are open to interpretation, so how exactly do you know if you are doing enough?

    First we need to understand that the definition of moderate intensity can be completely different from one individual to another. For example, an individual who exercises regularly may be in the moderate zone when running 3 miles in 30 minutes, yet for a novice exerciser moderate means walking one mile in 20 minutes.

    However this need not confuse us in determining the intensity of our exercise as although the intensity level is very critical in the overall guideline, fortunately it’s also fairly easily identified. Now some people might say work at 65-75% of you maximum heart rate and do this by taking your age from 220 and then work out the percentage and take your pulse for 15 seconds and times it by 4 – bloody hell it’s just too confusing!

    Fortunately there are some other very good ways to measure intensity with the most recognised being the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) that we can use with some simple self monitoring tests

    Rating of Perceived Exertion (How hard do you think you are working?)

    RPE has been proven as a reliable and useful method of monitoring an individual’s exercise intensity and the 15-point scale is illustrated below as an example: point 6 would be the equivalent of sitting down doing nothing, 9 would be walking gently, 13 a steady exercising pace and 19/20 the hardest exercise you have ever done.

    7 - Very, very light
    9 - Very light
    11 - Fairly light
    13 - Moderately hard
    15 - Hard
    17 - Very hard
    19 - Very, very hard
    20 - Exhaustion

    “Pay close attention to how hard you feel the work rate is. This feeling should reflect your total amount of exertion and fatigue, combining all sensations and feeling of physical stress, effort and fatigue. Don’t concern yourself with any one factor such as leg pain, shortness of breath or exercise intensity, but try to concentrate on your total, inner feelings of exertion. Try not to underestimate or overestimate your feelings of exertion; be as accurate as you can.”

    When beginning a physical activity programme then you should aim for an RPE of 13/14 as this is enough to give benefits without making you feel too overworked – pain does not always mean gain!

    Use the above as a rough guide but couple it to some simple self-tests and observations. When we exercise the body goes through certain physiological changes such as increased breathing rate and feeling warmer.

    Therefore at the right intensity you should begin to feel warmer and be breathing faster than normal but still be able to hold a conversation – this is the talk test!

    In Summary:

    If you are new to activity then aim to accumulate 30 minutes moderate activity most if not all days of the week.

    To begin with this could be making an effort everyday and doing things like opting for the stairs instead of the lift, get off the bus a stop early, wash the car instead of putting it through a machine etc.

    When you have successfully achieved this then you are ready to move onto stage 2 and it’s time to up the effort a bit, but again this does not have to be too hard.

    If you post any questions below I will endevour to answer them as best as possible or point you to some good advice.

    So why not try to be active today – you never know you might like it
    Anyone seen my opteron?

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