Exercise Program Basics
What does it mean to be physically fit or "in shape"? And how do I get there? The definition of physical fitness is the ability to perform routine tasks of daily life with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue and to maintain enough energy to enjoy leisure time activities. This basically means moving and stretching more.
There are three parts to physical fitness: cardiovascular endurance, muscle fitness and flexibility.
How Do I Start? You start by defining what you hope to achieve.
- Lower my blood sugars?
- Lose weight?
- Maintain my weight but get trimmer?
- Stronger, larger muscles?
Once you know your goals you can write out an exercise plan. An easy way to write out your plan is using the FITT for Exercise map. It will help you decide the type, amount and frequency of exercise.
|F.I.T.T for Exercise|
|I||=||Intensity (hardness of exercise)|
|T||=||Type of Exercise|
- Depends on your goal: weight loss, weight maintenance, cardiovascular endurance, blood sugar control?
- For weight maintenance and cardiovascular endurance you need to exercise 3-4 times per week
- For blood sugar control you need to exercise 4-6 times per week
- For weight loss you need to exercise 5-7 times per week
- Muscle strengthening exercises are done only 3 times per week with at least 36 hours off in between sessions. Therefore, every other day or Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
- Can be calculated by a formula that is based on your age and expected maximal heart rate. This formula comes up with a target heart range. Medication and some chronic diseases such as, heart disease and diabetes affect the formula. Therefore, it may not be accurate in those special cases.
- A target heart rate can be calculated for an individual based on a heart stress test (usually a treadmill or bike test). It is very accurate for that individual because it takes in account your medications and diseases.
- A rating of perceived exertion scale has been widely used for over 30 years and is as accurate as a stress test target heart range. It is also very easy to use.
Time/Duration of Exercise:
- First 20 minutes of any type of exercise only burns sugar.
- After 20 minutes, if doing aerobic exercise, you will start to burn fat.
- If your goal is to lose weight, you need to exercise longer than 20 minutes
- If your goal is to maintain weight, you only need to exercise 20 minutes
- A calorie, is a calorie, is a calorie. You will burn the same number of calories if you run, jog or walk 2 miles. But the amount of time exercising determines if it is a sugar or a fat calorie you will be burning.
Type of Exercise:
- Do not bounce.
- Do not stretch to point of pain.
- Stretch and hold for 10-30 seconds.
- Used to increase flexibility.
- Aerobic Exercise:
- Large muscles used in a repetitive, continuous pattern that can be performed for a long period of time and elevates your heart rate to a certain level.
- Burns both fat and oxygen.
- Oxygen needed in blood to burn fat. Therefore, need to exercise within a certain intensity range. By formula: 50-85% of your maximal effort.
- No huffing or puffing allowed
- Examples: walking, jogging, running, swimming, biking, singles tennis, cross-country skiing
- Anaerobic Exercise:
- Only one specific muscle group being used at a time OR a high intensity exercise for a short period of time OR an exercise that starts and stops frequently.
- Burns only sugar. Therefore, having oxygen available not necessary.
- Too high of intensity to continue for a long duration. Formula for intensity is > 85% of your maximal effort.
- Examples: sprinting, softball, weight lifting, doubles tennis, golf, most racquet sports, football, down-hill skiing
So the answer for your FITT formula depends on your goal!