Being a couch potato can kill you, literally. More deaths are attributed to sedentary lifestyle than even smoking! It has been estimated that 20% of all deaths of people 35 and older are attributed to a lack of physical activity. When you lack physical activity, the risk of dying from cancer increases 45% for men and 28% for women, the risk of dying from respiratory ailments is 92% higher for men and 75% higher for women, and the risk of dying from heart disease is 52% higher for men and 28% higher for women.

By moving the muscles, ligaments and limbs, you actually massage the tissues and organs of the body, bringing them oxygen and enhancing their flexibility. You also move lymph fluid around the body, and lymph must be moved through physical activity alone since there is no “lymph heart” to circulate lymph fluid like there is with your cardiovascular system.

Your heart pumps your blood even if you’re sitting in a chair. But there’s nothing to pump your lymph fluid other than sloshing your body around through regular movement.

Moderate exercise has been linked to a positive immune system response and a temporary boost in the production of macrophages, the cells that attack bacteria. It is believed that regular, consistent exercise can lead to substantial benefits in immune system health over the long-term. Studies also show that it doesn’t take an enormous amount of physical exercise to achieve health-enhancing results. A mere 30 minutes a day of walking, swimming, jogging, cycling or other cardiovascular exercise can have astounding positive health effects.

Exercise on a regular basis helps to turn down the production of stress hormones. Thus, exercise can help avoid the damage to our health that prolonged stress can cause. In fact, studies have found that exercise is a potent antidepressant, combatant of anxiety, and sleeping aid for many people. It’s amazing how clear your thinking becomes after exercise.

Your exercise program should consist of 3 components: aerobic, strength training and flexibility. This month we will address the aerobic component in exercise. Aerobic exercise consists of any exercise that challenges your cardiovascular system for a sustained period of time. This would exercise events that include running, jogging, walking, biking, elliptical trainer, swimming, etc.

One of the most over looked parts of working out is warm up and flexibility. Stretching is VERY important when it comes to injury prevention, balancing muscle groups, improving physical performance, reduction of muscle soreness, and improving posture. Do a few minutes of total body stretching after your 5-10 minute warm-up. In November, we will talk about flexibility and give you a good program to follow.

Proper form is very important in order to get the most out of your work out and to prevent injury. Be aware of your body as you are doing the exercise. Think about how your body feels during the exercise. Does one of your joints “click” or feel like it’s got a “catch” in it? Does your left hamstring (the muscle in the bag of your thigh) feel tighter or weaker than the other? Are your shins hurting? Many of these symptoms can indicate structural imbalances in your body that can interfere with your ability to workout at your fullest potential. Visiting your Chiropractor can help to correct these structural imbalances. Don’t ignore these warnings signs. It’s best to correct these structural misalignments as soon as possible. A simple, pain free adjustment is all it takes!

The most important thing about aerobic training is to remember you need to challenge yourself! If you choose a pace that’s too easy in which you hardly get winded and don’t attempt to break a sweat, you will not get the desired effects. Aerobic exercise 20-40 minutes [depending upon intensity] at least 4 times per week is suggested. Intensity is very important in your aerobic exercises. Twenty minutes of walking is VERY different than 20 minutes of running. Choose an aerobic exercise in which you can go hard enough so that you have a difficult time talking to someone and then step it down a notch and maintain it for at least 20 minutes. Try to mix it up with your aerobic exercise as well. For example, try a walk/jog/run for 3 weeks and then switch to an elliptical trainer for 3 weeks…then maybe try biking for 3 weeks and then go back to your walk/jog/run for 3 weeks, etc. If you are strictly a walker, try to increase your intensity by walking hills or increasing the incline on the treadmill.

If you are a beginner, for the first 2 weeks of training, establish your limitation or threshold. This is the point where you get very winded, cannot carry on a conversation and have to stop exercising to catch your breath…slowing down does not help. So if your threshold is 5 minutes, we suggest you set a goal of doing 5 minutes 3 times per day for 1 week. The next week, try to do 8 minutes, 3 times per day. If you can do a full 20 minutes right from the start, a goal for you may be doing 30 minutes at a higher intensity. Changing your duration and intensity about every 2 weeks will help you reach higher levels of aerobic fitness.

Feeling sore after your workouts? Muscles soreness will be a factor. To reduce muscle soreness, implement a good warm-up and flexibility program, drink plenty of clean water, take a good multiple vitamin and mineral supplement and take 6-10 Inflavonoid per day. Need help choosing a multiple vitamin? Don’t know how much water you should be drinking? Be sure to check out our May 2008 Multiple Vitamin Newsletter and July 2008 Hydration Newsletter. The Inflavonoid can be purchased through our office. It’s a great natural anti-inflammatory to keep on hand for joint and muscle swelling and soreness.

Don’t over do it! Overtraining can do more harm than good and leave you as weak as you were in the beginning and increase the chances of injury. Don’t forget to rest. If you are feeling very tired and everything seems to be very sore…take a day off! Regardless of how you feel, you should take at least one day off per week from aerobic exercise. Just as moderate exercise can improve your immune system and help stave off infectious disease, overtraining can actually lower your immune system and make you more susceptible to infectious disease.

It is very motivating to see your progress on paper. Please use our free Aerobic Exercise Log posted in the newsletter archives on our website to keep track of your progress. We would love to hear about your fitness success…please keep us informed of how you’re doing!