Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Healthy Foodie Rule #5: Exercise 45-60 minutes a day -- minimum

To stay fit and healthy while also being a committed foodie, you simply must exercise every day of your life.
Obviously, that can be a tall mountain to climb -- so to speak.
That 45-60 minute minimum refers to cardiovascular exercise, such as the clip-art photos that I've posted here.
Weather permitting, my day (and my husband's too) starts with a walk through our hilly neighborhood. Even if I don't walk especially fast, humping up our hills definitely elevates my heart rate. If your walking location is on flat terrain, you need to speed up your gait so that you are working your heart -- and burning calories.

Most exercise specialists agree that if you can't do 45-60 minutes of cardio in one time period, it's okay to spread shorter bursts throughout the day. Take a 20-30 minute walk in the morning and another on your lunch break or after work -- whatever works best in your schedule.

But cardio exercise isn't the whole story. You also need to incorporate strength training and stretching. Pilates counts as strength training, and yoga gets the stretching in, making both of those practices quite beneficial.
I belong to a gym, where I get a few group classes per week, including cardio (spinning and aerobics) and weight training (a class available in many gyms called "power" or something similar). Stretching I have to do on my own, and it's an area where I could improve.
I recently read an exercise-advice column saying that everyone should get 30 minutes of stretching per week, so I have tried to meet that goal.

Are there days when I don't get my minimum 45-60 minutes of cardio; are there weeks when I don't do enough muscle work or stretch for 30 minutes? Yes, but it's rare. Snowstorms wreak havoc, as do travel and illness. But as anyone who knows me well would agree, I find ways to exercise through almost anything -- on the road, snowed in, or fighting a cold. (Thankfully, I have not had any major illnesses or injuries to slow me down.)

I find that my health and happiness -- including managing stress -- depends on keeping up this exercise regimen. Exercise is vital.

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