Monday Mornings with Madison



Last week, we examined the many benefits of exercise for the body and mind. We confirmed that physical exercise not only strengthens and enhances the physique, it also repairs, rejuvenates, refreshes and reinvigorates the three-pound muscle that is the brain. Indeed, exercise is key to overall wellbeing. But fitness is good not just for each individual. It is also good for business. Employees who are fit are less stressed, more energetic, more focused and need fewer sick days.  Staff fitness also helps reduce the cost of health insurance. Thus, exercise is both a business and career enhancer. That may explain why many Japanese companies provide time on the job for calisthenics and stretching exercises.

Yet, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, 80% of Americans do not have a regular exercise program or a place to exercise. Why? There are many reasons. But for some, it comes from a lack of understanding about which, when and how much exercise is best? Confusion arises because there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The answer depends on the person’s overall health, interests and personality. 

The American Heart Association guidelines calls for a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic physical activity performed at moderate intensity (60%-80% maximum heart rate), either in one continuous period or in intervals of at least 20-minutes duration on most if not all days of the week. This is the amount called for to reduce the risk of coronary disease. It is equivalent to briskly walking at least 1.5 miles per day or raking leaves for half an hour.  

Although the benefits of exercise increase with frequency, intensity and duration of the activity, some studies indicate that even less exercise is still beneficial. A study at Harvard in 2001 found that walking just 60 to 90 minutes per week cut the risk of coronary artery disease in half among nearly 40,000 women over 45-years-old. Another study by Duke University reported that adults who began walking 12 miles a week showed significant improvements in cardiovascular fitness and lowered their risk of death from heart disease by 8.1%.

Indeed, walking is considered to be an ideal exercise for body and mind regardless of age. However, some may find it too mundane. Thankfully, as the need for deliberate exercise has increased (due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyle), the more forms of exercise have emerged to satisfy every interest and ability. 

Get MovingIn terms of exercise, most activities either build strength or endurance. Some do both. 

Strength-building Exercises – Strength training builds muscle and keeps muscles toned. To become stronger, muscles need to work against some kind of resistance. This causes them to contract, and the more they work by contracting, the stronger the muscles get.  For example, lifting weights (either free weights or weight machines) helps build more muscle mass by creating small micro tears in the muscle. New muscle grows back over the tears, and the muscle becomes stronger. Besides weights, resistance training can be done using the body’s own weight to build muscle, such as doing traditional push-ups, pull-ups or sit-ups. Resistance bands can also provide the same resistance.  Short sessions of large muscle strength-building exercises also prevent back problems.

Endurance-increasing Exercises - Endurance exercises are any activities that increase the heart rate and breathing for an extended period of time. Endurance should be increased gradually, starting out with as little as five minutes of endurance activities at a time. Exercises for endurance tend to be aerobic in nature. Aerobic exercises develop slow twitch muscles. Performing such exercises strengthens and elongates the muscles for preparation of extended periods of use.

Many ChoicesSome people prefer to exercise alone and use the time to clear their minds. There are many strength and endurance-building activities that can be (but don’t have to be) done alone.

Individual Exercises

  1. Walking
  2. Running
  3. Hiking
  4. Bicycling
  5. Roller or ice skating
  6. Skateboarding
  7. Spinning / stationary cycling
  8. Stairmaster
  9. Elliptical
  10. Yoga / Tai Chi
  11. Pilates
  12. Step Aerobics
  13. Jumping rope (burns more calories minute-for-minute than any other exercise)
  14. Calisthenics
  15. Swimming
  16. Kayaking, Rafting or Canoeing
  17. Surfing
  18. Cross-country skiing
  19. Downhill skiing
  20. Snowboarding

If exercising alone sounds boring or exercising in a social setting is more appealing, try a sport that requires engagement with others. You may start playing for the exercise but stay for the camaraderie. Any activity that feels more like fun and less like exercise will be one that will be maintained long-term.

Group or Team Sports

  1. Golf
  2. Racquetball
  3. Handball
  4. Stickball
  5. Tennis
  6. Boxing
  7. Kick-Boxing
  8. Softball
  9. Baseball
  10. Basketball
  11. Volleyball
  12. Team Rowing
  13. Water-skiing
  14. Rock-climbing
  15. Soccer (known as futball outside the U.S.)
  16. Polo
  17. Lacrosse
  18. Hockey

Do those forms of exercise or sport still sound a bit too traditional and ubiquitous? Then try something new.

Trendy Exercise Programs

  1. Cy-Yo – a one-hour workout combining 10 minutes of yoga, 40 minutes of speed cycling on a stationary bike, then 10 more minutes of yoga
  2. Tai-bo –is a high-energy, aerobic, non-combat exercise that combines moves from dance, kickboxing and other martial arts set to music.
  3. Capoeira – Afro-Brazilian martial arts training
  4. Piloxing – blends the power, speed, and agility of boxing with the muscle sculpting and flexibility of Pilates
  5. Zumba – a group fitness class that features aerobic interval training with muscle toning.

The choices are many, but the fundamental idea is the same. Exercise is important for mental and physical health and longevity. Exercise improves clarity of thought, ability to focus, emotional balance and mood. It actually makes your brain work better. So choose the activity that fits your lifestyle and get going. Getting fit will be profitable to you and to your company.

“Exercise is the catalyst. That’s what makes everything happen; everything about you depends on circulation.” Jack LaLanne

© 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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