Exercise and Physical Activity

Exercise is an important part of being healthy, but many times there are lots of questions about when or how to begin. Below is a list of frequently asked questions and some good answers for you to think about!

What type of exercise should I try? How do I start?
The best way to start is to make small changes in your life, for example walking to school or taking the stairs. As you progress you should begin to do more structured workouts. Part of having a successful exercise routine is choosing things you enjoy and figuring out what works best for you. Keep in mind your weekly exercise should include both cardio and strength training. Whatever activities you choose you should start slowly and increase in time and intensity gradually.

How often should I exercise and for how long?
Initially you should start off gradually so your body can adapt to the increased activity. You should progress slowly as you feel yourself getting stronger and fitter. Ideally the long term goal should be to exercise 60 minutes 6 times a week.

The 60 minutes of exercise does not always have to be done all at once. Due to your schedule and responsibilities you may have to break it up, for example a 30 minute walk in the morning and lifting weights or playing soccer in the evening. It is important to schedule a rest day to avoid fatigue and injury.

How do I know when to stop so I don’t overdo it?
There is some trial and error involved in the beginning but exercise generally should make you feel energized afterwards not totally spent. When you first start you will feel some muscle soreness usually the next day but not so much that you have trouble walking or moving. If you experience pain or extreme fatigue you are overdoing it and should back off or stop.

With resistance training you should start with light weights and low repetitions. You should focus on your form and gradually progress so you don’t get overly sore. Some muscle soreness is expected and actually lets you know your workout was effective.

How many calories do I burn by walking, jogging, or running?
There are many free apps that have calories burned calculators in them. The amount of calories burned varies greatly depending on the exercise performed, the intensity level, and individual characteristics such as weight.

Generally if a 160 lb. person walks for 1 hour at a 3.5 mile per hour (mph) pace, he will burn approximately 314 calories. The same person will burn 606 calories jogging at a 5 mph pace and 861 calories at an 8mph pace.

What if I gain more weight by exercising?
Initially it is not unusual to see a slight weight gain due to the fact that you are building muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. Eventually, however, increasing your muscle mass helps speed up your metabolism and improves your ability to burn calories.

Jumping on a scale every day is not the best way to monitor this. A better measure is waist circumference and how your clothes are fitting.

How will exercise help me?
Exercise is extremely beneficial in numerous ways. These include improving mood, improving self-esteem, decreasing anxiety, increasing energy, controlling weight, improving brain function, combating health conditions and diseases, and improving sleep. Other added benefits are that it can be fun; it can take you to new and exciting places, and introduce you to new friends.

What if I exercise but I don’t see progress?
If you are exercising regularly and eating healthy even if you feel you are not seeing any progress it is safe to say you are though probably not as fast as you would like. This is where journaling your exercise will help to make you aware of your progress and where you are in meeting your goals.

A journal allows you to look back to see your improvements and areas where you may need to make adjustments. As your fitness level increases you will need to change things up to ensure you are still challenging yourself and to keep things fun and motivating. You can also take your journal to your parents, coach, or doctor to discuss your progress and ways to improve.