Exercise and Weight Loss

Many people spend countless hours searching for a quick and easy weight loss plan. Whether your goal is to lose a few pounds or 50 lbs, adding regular exercise to your daily routine is the best way to lose weight and keep it off.

Eating a healthy diet is important for everyone. Decreasing your caloric intake may initially cause you to lose weight, but over time as you consume less calories, your metabolism decreases to conserve energy. Basically, if your body expects only a certain number of calories, it doesn’t want to use them too quickly. Therefore, oftentimes diet alone causes weight loss to plateau.

Diet plus exercise is a healthy and efficient way to lose weight. This combination has proven to be more effective than dieting or exercise alone. Cardiovascular (CV) exercise is the best way to burn calories and lose weight.  The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of CV exercise per week (such as 30 minutes, 5 times per week). Strive to increase your intensity level to what you perceive as a “somewhat strong to strong” effort for at least 20 minutes.  This means you should break a sweat while breathing harder; you should be able to talk, but you don’t necessarily want to.  Examples of CV exercise include a brisk walk or bicycling (indoor or outdoors), swimming laps, using an elliptical machine and cross country skiing, to name a few.  If walking on a TM, be sure to increase the incline to at least 3%.  This will effectively increase your heart rate to the recommended intensity level.  Walking outside can also improve memory, fight depression, and lower blood pressure.  Adding strength training into your routine may also speed up weight loss.

Exercise is not only an effective calorie burner, it also decreases body fat and can maintain/increase lean body mass. Lean body mass is metabolically more active than body fat, maintaining a higher level of resting metabolism, thus burning calories at a higher rate without a plateau.

So, choose whatever form of CV exercise that you find most enjoyable, and most importantly, have fun!

Maintaining Your Spinal Flexibility

 

Remember how limited your range of motion was prior to undergoing PDR’s MedX rehabilitation program?  Those tight, injured muscles slowly regained flexibility by all of your hard work stretching daily and performing isolated exercise in the MedX machines.  Here are a few tips and reminders in maintaining your flexibility and continuing improvement.

  • Use good posture and ergonomics: Muscle tightness may result from prolonged and repetitive use of the body in a particular pattern or posture.  Prolonged sitting at a computer, for example, tends to create short, tight suboccipital, upper trapezius, levator scapulae, and pectoral muscles from a forward, rounded head position.
  • Take brief stretch breaks: Typically after sitting, driving, or working in a flexed position, your body needs to extend!  Here are the best postural stretches to do every few hours:
    • Chin and head retraction
    • Supported Neck Extension (backward)
    • Lower Trapezius Mobilization stretch
    • Doorway Pectoral Stretch
    • Standing or Prone Extension stretch
  • Stretch at night or after aerobic activity: Stretching is most effective if done to a warmed up body, about the temperature that causes a light sweat.  So, completing cardiovascular exercise or taking a hot shower before stretching tends to help.  For pain reduction, it is best to stretch muscles just prior to going to bed.  The body heals at night and the muscles should be allowed to heal in a lengthened state.
  • Stretch with intension and accuracy: 30-60 second long gradual holds while deep breathing will allow a more effective stretch.  Hold at the point of tension, relax, and wait until the muscle relaxes, allowing you to bring yourself into a further stretch
  • Keep stretching in your weekly routine: Continue to stretch daily, until the muscle is no longer tight.  When muscles are no longer tight, the body has returned to balance, and it is no longer necessary to stretch daily.  To maintain flexibility by stretching once every 1-2 weeks.  If tightness re-occurs, then go back to the daily stretching routine.

Exercise and the Outdoors

This is an image of an adult stretching on a boardwalk.

Benefits of Aerobic Exercise

Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to have significant health benefits, particularly in reducing risk of heart and lung disease, improved sleep, decreased anxiety, weight loss, and even improvement in neck and back pain.  While exercising, the nervous system releases hormones that help control pain levels.  Increased circulation to the neck and back muscles provides increased nutrition for healing, reduces postural tension, and lubricates the joints.

Tips for Getting Started

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week; such as 30 minutes, 5 times per week.  Recent research has shown that 2, 15 minute bouts is as beneficial as 30 minutes of continuous exercise.  This is good news for people who are limited by time constraints or poor endurance!

You should begin by lightly stretching your muscles for a warm up, and build the intensity of your exercise over the fist few minutes.  Increase your intensity level, raising your heart rate and respirations to what is perceived to you as “somewhat strong to strong” effort for at least 20 minutes.  This means you should break a sweat while breathing harder; you should be able to talk, but you don’t necessarily want to.

Before finishing, cool down and decrease your intensity slowly.  Finish with light stretching after exercise.

Get out and Enjoy the Weather!

Are you bored with that same old walk around the neighborhood?  New scenery is a great way to stay motivated and enjoy our city!  There are hundreds of walking and biking trails all over the state, so find someplace new to enjoy the day.

Minneapolis Area Parks and Trails

Here are some links to parks and trails in the area.  If you’re a plant lover, check out the University of Minnesota Arboretum and walk among beautiful plants and trees.

http://www.minneapolisparks.org/home.asp

http://www.threeriversparkdistrict.org/

http://www.arboretum.umn.edu/

http://www.mntrails.com

http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/about/maps