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Getting Fit | 7: Variety—The Spice in Your Program

Getting Fit

Variety, convenience and fun are all important parts of your exercise program. "Not fun, not done" is a saying that has more truth in it than the outmoded, "no pain, no gain"! Exercise doesn't have to be a chore, it can actually be something you look forward to. This week, shop around and find different kinds of activities that you enjoy, that fit into your lifestyle, and that sometimes you can do with other people.

Sporting activities can be important to your program for several reasons: They offer the opportunity to exercise without thinking about it, they add spice to your active lifestyle, they reduce tension and stress, and they promote health and fitness. Adding new activities and challenges is a key way to combat the reason some people give up exercising—boredom. If you find that boredom is one of your main reasons for not exercising, it's especially important that you get variety into your program.

Also, adding an alternate exercise to your regular program will be useful when the weather is not good, a treadmill is not available, you have some injury that prevents you from walking, or you just want to do something different. We're suggesting that you give some serious thought to having some alternate forms of exercise. People who have a wide variety of activities—brisk walking when the weather is pleasant, swimming when it's hot and a pool is near by, aerobic dancing when they want a change of pace—maintain their interest as well as their fitness level. One way that has been shown to work for many people, is to do a planned walking session for 30 continuous minutes on three days of the week, then include, as time and circumstances allow, a few recreational or sporting activities that you enjoy during the week. Of course, you would continue to keep active during the day by doing things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, etc.

Here are just a few activities you might want to explore. These activities all qualify as moderate activity, so they could be substituted for your walking session when you want variety. Because the amount of activity is a function of how long?—how hard?—how often?—the same amount of activity can be achieved in longer sessions of moderately intense activities (such as brisk walking) or in shorter sessions of more strenuous activities (such as running). You'll notice that for less vigorous activities, you need to spend time and for the more vigorous activities, you can spend less time.

  • Playing volleyball for 45 minutes
  • Playing touch football for 30-45 minutes
  • Gardening for 30-45 minutes
  • Playing doubles tennis for 40 minutes
  • Shooting baskets for 30 minutes
  • Bicycling 5 miles for 30 minutes
  • Fast social dancing for 30 minutes
  • Water aerobics for 30 minutes
  • Swimming laps for 20 minutes
  • Basketball (playing a game) for 15-20 minutes
  • Low impact aerobic dance for 15-20 minutes
  • Bicycling 4 miles in 15 minutes
  • Jumping rope for 15 minutes
  • Running 11/2 mile in 15 minutes (10 minute mile)
  • Stairwalking for 15 minutes

The above activities are adapted from the Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health, using estimations of various intensity of effort. You can use this chart to estimate how long you would need to do activities that are not listed in order to be classified as moderate activity.

Chart the following activities in your Activity Log:

  1. Walk at moderate intensity for 30 continuous minutes three times this week. Include warm-up, cool down and stretching.

  2. Add one more strengh exercise and do four strength training exercises on two non-consecutive days

  3. Experiment with some alternate activities that you enjoy and can work into your lifestyle. If you would like to do an activity with a friend or family member, arrange it now.

Print the Activity Log for your use in recording daily activities.

Here are a few tips to keep you on the right track this week.

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