Greet 2017 by getting fit and getting healthy – your future self
will thank you for it. We sat down with Dr. Russ Petrie and Karri L. Knodel,
MPAS, PA-C, ATC, for a Q & A discussion on exercising routines and habits.
Words of Wisdom – Best Practice for Best Results
The biggest roadblock for most exercisers isn't what exercises they
do or don't do, it's whether or not they are consistent. So how
often should people ideally work out per week based on their goals--be
they to lose weight, build muscle, improve their heart health, etc? Let's
lay out how often people need to work out for the results they want, and why.
"150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week
of vigorous exercise" is a general recommendation regarding physical
activity, but what sort of "results" come with this much activity?
Improved heart health? General reduction of chronic disease?
- The American College of Sports Medicine has performed an extensive review
of the literature, and it is well-documented that regular physical activity
can decrease blood glucose, delay the onset of type II diabetes, improve
blood lipids (cholesterol), lower blood pressure, and decrease overall
cardiovascular events, such as heart attack. Type II diabetes has become
a national epidemic, and combining weight loss with routine physical activity
has been shown to decrease the risk of type II diabetes by as much as
58%. Regular physical activity has also been shown to improve the quality
of life in our patients suffering from depression, as well as chronic
pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia. Regular exercise additionally has
been shown to improve sleep, mood and even improve or retard cognitive.
Why is consistency important when it comes to getting the most out of exercise?
Both in terms of overall health and skeletal muscle hypertrophy?
- Consistency is important because the musculoskeletal system is generally
an adaptive system, meaning the strength of our tissues changes in direct
response to the forces placed upon them, both positively and negatively.
As in skeletal muscle hypertrophy, the size of our muscle fibers increases
in response to the volume of exercise so that the muscle may be better
equipped to handle that same volume in the future. Unfortunately the opposite
is true, as well. Consistent exercises results in building upon previous
exercise. When someone stops exercising their body returns to a decondtioned
(i.e. a weaker state). In general it takes longer to recondition (i.e.
get into “shape”) than it takes to decondition.
Similarly, why is it important not just to consider the number of weekly
minutes spent exercising, but also the number of workout days per week?
- For the same reasons as stated above.The biggest mistake many of our patients
face is treating an exercise program as a finite event, meaning there
is an end in sight. Adopting exercise as a permanent lifestyle change
is most effective when it is incorporated as a daily or near-daily routine,
rather than the "weekend-warrior" mentality. Seven one hour
episodes of exercise per week is likely better than one seven episode per week.
How many days should people perform structured exercise per week for the
- Fat loss: 30 minutes or more of moderate cardiovascular exercise at least
5 days per week with resistance training 2-3 times per week
- Muscle gain: resistance training 3-4 times per week
- Overall health: same as fat loss
What recommendations would you give people on how to gradually increase
their weekly exercise frequency?
- Start in bouts of 10 minutes, and use the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)
scale, which is an easy, subjective way to quantify exercise intensity
on a scale of 0-10. Start with an RPE of 2-3. Once you can complete 30
consecutive minutes, increase to an RPE of 4. Generally speaking, during
an RPE of 4 you should be able to hold a simple conversation with short
sentences without getting out of breath.
Finally, how many workout days are too many? And how can people structure
their workout days to make sure that they are getting the most out of
every workout and not overtraining?
- The most important thing we recommend is to listen to your body. During
an exercise program, rest is an important part of the adaptive system.
We must allow our bodies the opportunity to respond and repair in response
to the stresses we've placed on them. Rest days are a great opportunity
to work on flexibility and balance. Exercising for two to three days with
a rest day between can be quite effective. Additionally, it is important
to work different parts of your body. For example alternating between
swimming and cycling. Working arms and upper body one day and legs the
next day. Also, alternating between weightlifting activity and aerobic
activity and flexibility activity, helps avoid over stressing any one
body part. This can help reduce injury. As we age our bodies take longer
to adapt to physical activity so the alternating activities and the interval
for rest should change. Impact activities can be damaging on joints over time.
U.S. News & World Report recently penned a piece on this topic as
well, featuring insights from Dr. Russ Petrie.
Read it here