So you have made a New Year’s resolution (again?) to get fit this year. How do you begin?
First, consider the fact that schoolchildren must get a “sports physical” annually prior to any sports participation. Does this imply that children are inherently unhealthy and less fit than adults are? Doubtful that logic applies. Rather, pre-participation physicals are required for children in order to screen the kids for musculoskeletal or cardiovascular risks, which may impede their sports activities or, even worse, potentially prove to be fatal. Additionally, visiting a health care provider for this ritual affords an opportunity for the child and accompanying adult to have the provider address seemingly unrelated sports issues such as drug, alcohol or tobacco use, sexual activity (consensual or otherwise), and family health matters that may or may not have an impact on the child.
So, if you are an adult wanting to begin an exercise program but you have not had a physical within the past year it behooves you to consider doing so. Your health care provider will help you determine if you carry any risks that need to be addressed first.
In addition to making as certain as possible that you are in suitable condition to begin an exercise program, your health care provider may also provide assistance in tracking your progress by virtue of weight and blood pressure monitoring or regular blood tests to track improving lipid (cholesterol, etc) levels, or providing a variety of quit smoking approaches from which to choose.
Hopefully, your health care provider walks the walk and talks the talk. That is to say, he/she participates in some type of exercise regimen and, therefore, will be fully versed and ready to assist you when it comes to roadblocks, real or imagined, along your way to fitness.
So, pick a sport or activity in which you have some interest whether it is indoor or outdoor, team or individual, with a friend or without. Decide on a reasonable and realistic frequency per week as well as how many minutes per day based on your current level of fitness and schedule constraints. Keep in mind some of the recommendations put forth by the American Heart Association: work toward performing at least 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity five to seven times a week. Participants at any level of fitness should start at a slow pace for a short time, and then increase the intensity, duration, and frequency of exercise until it can be comfortably continued for the desired number of minutes. Each level of intensity and duration should be maintained for at least one to two weeks before advancing to a new level of intensity or duration. And do not forget to include a warm-up and cool-down period with gentle stretching exercises. Above all, commit to something and see it through; before you know it, Dec. 31, 2014 will be here.
• Agnes Oblas is an adult nurse practitioner with a private practice and residence in Ahwatukee Foothills. For questions, or if there is a topic you would like her to address, call (602) 405-6320 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Her website is www.newpathshealth.com.