Let’s start with this. You possess perhaps the most sophisticated, adaptable, and versatile machine ever created: the human body. My exercise philosophy stems from the concept that we should, 1) take care of our bodies, 2) use them in a functional and/or skilled way, and 3) have some fun in the process. Plenty of people have an aversion to exercise. Perhaps they’ve had bad experiences, or misconceptions, like exercise has to be miserable. But it doesn’t. For exercise to be a healthy lifestyle habit, it should involve purposeful, beneficial movement, and it should hopefully be something you enjoy, and can develop over time. There are plenty of options out there to choose from.
Let’s look at some basic exercise guidelines. On the minimal end of the spectrum, the ACSM/AHA (American College of Sports Medicine/American Heart Association) guidelines call for 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, 5 days a week, or a total of 150 minutes per week. This is a minimal recommendation, and may be a good starting point or goal for someone beginning an exercise routine. Also, if you are only looking to maintain your current health and fitness levels, this amount of exercise, coupled with a healthy diet, will help you do so. But if you’re motivated to make significant changes to your health and fitness levels, or strive toward optimal health, you’ll want to increase your duration up towards an hour a day, and add some more intense exercise into your routine as well.
One of my favorite books about living healthy is Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. I highly recommend it, especially if you are over 40. The book focuses on strategies to live a high-quality, functional life well into your 80s. Here is a quote from Dr. Lodge, while talking to his new patient, sixty-something Chris Crowley:
[Exercise] is the secret to great health. You should exercise hard almost every day of your life–say, six days a week. And do strength training. Lift weights, two of those six days. Exercise is the great key to aging.
–Dr. Henry S. Lodge, Younger Next Year
If this seems radical, or unattainable, that’s OK. This is the goal, not a starting point. But the point Dr. Lodge is making is that we do have to push our bodies and challenge our minds on a regular basis to achieve positive changes to our bodies and come ever closer to our optimal level of health. If you can follow these guidelines while doing something that is fun as well, whether it is hiking, biking, skiing, running, dancing, etc., then you are well on your way to living a long, healthy, and productive life. This is what Montana Moves is all about!
If you are just getting started with an exercise program, be sure to consult your doctor first. Then if you need more help, contact a personal trainer on your campus or in your community, or feel free to contact me as well if you have questions.
Now go get out there and get moving!