It is that time of year again! Hot apple cider, bonfires, tailgating, and my favorite reason of all: tight jeans with boots and a sweater. Fall is full of cute comfy clothes, crisp cool air, and so many tailgating parties that it is hard to stay motivated from all the work of summer. For many it also means the start of a new semester or the stressful time of year again when your boss is checking the timetables a little more closely.
It becomes all too familiar of a scene. Staying late studying or at work, grabbing fast food on the way home because it is there and the new spokesperson said it was healthier than before, forgetting to work out, and slowly it becomes a habit. We figure that our new adorable sweater will cover any insecurities and we lose sight of the bigger picture.
We should not think about the physical effects they may have on our body but the physiological aspects instead. A healthy lifestyle is far more important than losing weight and fitting into a smaller pant size. A healthy lifestyle can improve more than our physical lives but our social and psychological lives as well. It can improve our moods and attitudes, not to mention our sex lives and approach to social interactions. Also, the healthier lifestyle we have now, the smaller the affects of aging are seen. We can decrease our chances of diseases like diabetes or respiratory dysfunction simply by training our bodies for it now.
We have been told by so many doctors and families members to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but no one really describes how to in this world. While this is not scientifically proven, I personally believe that fitting exercise in at the same time everyday is the best way to maintain an active life. In my years of juggling being in school, maintaining a job, extracurricular activities and a somewhat active social life, I consistently try to work out at the same time everyday. I have adjusted my body to accepting that I will wake up 45 minutes earlier to workout before class and work and go to bed 45 minutes earlier. The problem with maintaining an active lifestyle is that many people over estimate the duration and intensity of exercise needed to be successful. It is recommended that a person in their 20’s or 30’s complete aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 minutes for 3-4 days a week. This can include inclined walking, cycling, jogging, elliptical, or swimming.
As a graduate student in physical therapy, it is my obligation to go into some scientific reasoning behind this last statement. The length of duration of an aerobic exercise is crucial. It takes the body 20 minutes to switch from a fast muscle contraction, short duration motion like sprinting to a slow muscle contraction, long duration motion like jogging. The switch from fast muscle contraction to slow muscle contraction in the body is what burns fat. Fat cannot be utilized without this change in the body. The other crucial component of your exercise regimen is the amount your heart rate increases during exercise. Your heart rate should increase somewhere in between 50-80% of your maximum heart rate to achieve the optimal aerobic exercise. In order to calculate this, take 220 minus your age for your maximum heart rate and then multiple by 0.5-0.8 to calculate the max heart rate. (E.g. 220- 22 years= 198 maximum beats per minute. 198 x 0.8 = 99pbm- 158.4 bpm). This will give you the best results for all aspects of your life.
I know it may seem like a challenge sometimes, and life gets way too busy, but a healthy lifestyle goes beyond physical benefits. It can be a stress reliever and actually increase your immune system against disease like the common cold or flu. So while snuggling under a blanket watching a movie sounds enjoyable to all, going for quick bouts of exercise may improve more than immediate effects we see but actually increase our life span and quality of life we are living. So let’s grab those running shoes and get going!