Perryman Nutrition Column: You Only Have One Body– Take Care of It!

Note to Reporters: The following column is written by Shirley Perryman, an Extension specialist in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. The department is part of the College of Applied Human Sciences at Colorado State University.

Women tend to be more vain about appearance than men, and “vanity sizing” – or putting a size smaller on clothing than its true size — has existed for some time in women’s clothing. Now there is “manity” sizing for men. Men’s size 36 pants may now be a 34 waist size from some manufacturers. That may flatter one’s ego, but what counts is your state of health.

Your health is affected by the lifestyle choices you make. A healthy lifestyle includes choosing nutritious foods most of the time along with a program of regular activity and exercise. They go hand-in-hand.

This isn’t only an adult’s issue. While Colorado retains its standing as having the lowest adult obesity rate in the country, the childhood obesity rate has shown the second fastest increase in the nation. As parents and grandparents, we can be good role models for the younger generation to help them look forward to a long and active life. No longer should we expect to be confined to a rocking chair in our older years; it’s worth the long term investment in ourselves to strive toward quality of life as we age.

The best offense is a good defense: start an exercise program now. Check with your physician before beginning the exercise program to ask about any health concerns that would require a specialist to help you find or put together an exercise regimen that meets your needs. Your physician can determine if you initially need an exercise stress test to look for underlying heart conditions. You also may be taking medications that would require adjustments with increased activity.

These are the American Heart Association physical activity guidelines. For both moderate and vigorous exercise you should be able to carry on a conversation while raising your heart rate.
Under age 65: Healthy people under age 65 should do moderate exercise at least five days a week for 30 minutes or vigorous exercise three days a week for 20 minutes. Along with this, healthy people in this age group should also do 8 to 10 strength-training exercises twice a week, doing 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise.

For those attempting to lose weight, the amount of time exercising may need to be increased to 60 to 90 minutes.

Over age 65: For those over 65 (or those ages 50 to 64 with chronic conditions), exercise moderately five days a week for at least 30 minutes or exercise vigorously for 20 minutes three days a week. Combine this with 8 to 10 strength-training exercises two to three times per week, doing 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise. If you have a medical condition that affects your balance, add balance exercises to your regimen. Problems with balance that are not associated with medication may require additional balance exercises. These exercises may improve your balance and help prevent injury from falls as you age.
All age groups: To more likely increase your success be sure to:
    – Start slowly: Motivation is the key to getting started. If you feel overwhelmed by the time commitment or find the exercises too difficult initially you’re more likely to quit. Research has shown that even if the exercise sessions need to be broken into smaller time slots of 10 or 15 minutes throughout the day, the body benefits.
   – Choose a fun activity: If you’re motivated by being in a group, choose a group with similar abilities to make it enjoyable and motivating to keep moving forward in intensity and duration. If you like to dance, try a Zumba class. If you do better with a partner, introduce yourself to a neighbor and find a convenient time to walk together. 
   – Make the commitment: Think of your exercise time the same as your commitment to brushing your teeth regularly. If you wouldn’t leave the house without brushing your teeth, why skip your regular exercise?
   – Build in activity: In addition to your exercise time, find other ways to be active. The more you move, the better it is for your heart and you’ll burn more calories. Climb stairs at your place of work, park further away when shopping, and walk to the neighborhood potluck or coffee shop instead of driving.
   – Enjoy positive side effects: Exercise has additional benefits. You’ll likely experience lower daily stress and sleep better at night. You may find your blood pressure going down, your blood sugar under better control, your lipid panel and bone density tests improving, and the need for some medications may decrease.

Still need additional motivation? The holidays are coming and with them are many food temptations along with more activities to lure us away from our exercise routines. Give yourself a gift in advance. Jump start your exercise program so you won’t be among those who are searching for a way to deal with extra pounds after the holidays.