POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 24, 2010
One factor contributing to a healthy lifestyle is physical activity -- more specifically, physical activity that challenges or surpasses the amount to which you are accustomed.
If your modus operandi is going from a seated position in your car to a seated position at your desk, walking every day around your neighborhood for 30 minutes will challenge your body for a time until you acclimatize. Conversely, if you get plenty of daily exercise from biking to work and are looking to improve your cardiovascular capacity beyond that, adding a few swim or run days throughout the week might just stimulate a change.
Obviously, those scenarios are on opposite ends of the spectrum. But the goals are the same. Both seek to improve overall physical condition; the only difference is the starting base line. Whether you are a habitual exerciser or just starting out, establishing a base line is an excellent place to begin a body-improvement project.
People often misconstrue their level of activity. Overestimating is easy because of the stress we are exposed to every day. Modern stress leaves our minds tired and fatigued, but without the matching physical fatigue characteristic of pre-industrial stress.
To avoid this pitfall, keep a log of your movements for a week. A simple way is to wear a pedometer and track the steps you take each day. The often-cited recommendation is 10,000 steps, roughly equaling five miles. Most people cannot achieve this passively (individuals considered sedentary take fewer than 5,000 steps per day) and must make it a point to take a 30-minute walk in order to meet the quota.
After a full week of step counting, determine a starting point and strive to improve it by 50 percent by the end of six weeks. Once achieved, a new base line will be established, and you will be ready to best that by another 50 percent. This can continue until you are ready to switch to more challenging activities due to your improved physical condition. Constantly establishing a new base line equates to constant improvement, guaranteeing perpetual success.
Reggie Palma has been an exercise physiologist and personal trainer for 12 years. He has a fourth-degree black belt in the Filipino martial art of kali.