Spring into action – putting together an exercise plan


By ESTHER ELLIS, MS, RDN, LDN, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Spring is here. The days are getting longer and the temperatures are rising. In addition to all of the wonderful fruits and vegetables spring provides, warmer weather gives us the chance to get out of the house and enjoy the benefits of physical activity.

With a balanced eating plan, exercise is important both for losing weight and maintaining your overall health. The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend adults engage in a minimum of 2½ hours each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week.

With planning, you can easily fit 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic activity into your routine most days of the week.

Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities:

  • Walking (about 3½ miles per hour)
  • Water aerobics
  • Bicycling (less than 10 mph)
  • Tennis (doubles)
  • Dancing

Examples of vigorous-intensity activities:

  • Race-walking (4½ mph)
  • Jogging, running (5 mph)
  • Swimming laps
  • Bicycling (faster than 10 mph)
  • Tennis (singles)
  • Aerobics

To increase your levels of aerobic activity, first decide which activities you enjoy and look at your daily schedule to see where you can fit in these activities. If you’re starting from little or no daily physical activity, check with your physician first and begin with five to 10 minutes per day. Increase your duration every week by 10-minute increments until you’re up to 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week.

And don’t forget about strength-building exercises! Adults should do muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups at least twice a week.

As you develop your physical activity plan, remember nutrition is fundamental to your peak physical performance. To put in your best effort, you need carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. If you’re highly active, you may need slightly more of some nutrients. Whatever your level of activity, maximize your performance by consuming a wide variety of foods and adequate calories. Consider working with a registered dietitian nutritionist to help design a nutrition plan that supports your active lifestyle.

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