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Monday, Aug. 15, 2016

KEEPING FIT

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Now is the time to reestablish a fitness routine

It’s time to get married … to a fitness program. Everyone thinks of “fitness season” as the time when people are making resolutions for the new year. In reality, fitness should not be seasonal. And the end of summer is a good time to get back into a fitness routine, especially if you’ve been out of town and out of touch with your fitness routine for these past months.

As director of the WK Fitness & Wellness Centers, people are returning to the centers after vacation, and I’m happy to see them back because I know that means they value the benefits of a good fitness program.

So what does it take for a good fitness program? It’s a combination of strength and cardio, but equally important is the aspect of consistency.

Consistency. Consider your fitness program as a commitment. It’s like a marriage – you’re taking a vow to yourself to practice a healthy habit. Most experts recommend exercising at least three times a week or every other day. The rest periods between exercise times are important because they are needed when you are working muscle groups. Most people who exercise at our centers are typical, exercising on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Strength. With a good fitness program, you’ll work on your core strength, the strength in the midpart of the body, your abdominal and back muscles in particular. If you’re thinking of the image of a body building pumping iron, it’s doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve found our members really enjoy machines that focus on a special group of muscles like large muscles in the back, abdomen and legs. By isolating those mus- cles with specific machines, we can really see what we’re gaining.

Cardio. This is a type of exercise like walking on a treadmill, riding a recumbent cycle or anything else that allows you to control a bit of resistance can automatically increase your heart rate and sustain it for a given or prescribed period of time.

If you’ll look for them, you’ll find some forms of exercise that combine both strength and cardio. Walking with walking sticks is one. When you plant the sticks into the ground while walking, you’re getting cardio, and you’re also flexing muscles in your arms, shoulders, back and abdomen.

How do you get the right plan for you? It depends on your fitness goals and where you get your advice. As a hospital-based fitness service, all of our members start with an exercise prescription by one of our exercise specialists. Having professionally-trained fitness experts on staff to do this and to monitor people as they exercise is a huge benefit. We only employ people who have a minimum of a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise sciences, physical education or kinesiology. Some of our staff even hold master’s degrees in these fields. They have the qualifications to sit down with the member and analyze his or her beginning condition, ultimate goal and especially what they enjoy doing. Everyone’s not the same, so every prescription will be different.

We know not everyone wants to spend an hour three times a week on a treadmill. Some people enjoy water exercise. Some like to dance. Others enjoy the calm of yoga. We realize that people their 20s, 30s and 40s really prefer the class route for exercise. We have a full range of classes that address different types of exercise, all taught by certified professionals. We don’t employ self-professed instructors or those who do these for a hobby. All classes are taught by professionals who have various certifications in their fields and have undergone a screening process with our aerobic coordinator.

This is the kind of medicalbased fitness program you find in the big cities and that people pay $100 or more for in monthly dues. As a not-for-profit hospital -based fitness organization, we’re pleased to be able to offer a high level of service and still keep those dues affordable for our members. While some centers focus on how low their memberships are, others, like us, focus on what we offer. I think it all goes back to that old adage, “You get what you pay for.”

Over the years, I’ve heard people moan that they don’t have the time to exercise.

That’s just an excuse. People make time to do the things that are important to them, and what could be more important than staying healthy? Before I became director of our fitness program, I was a nurse, so I have seen what bad habits do to people’s health. When bad things can be prevented, you should work to prevent them. That’s why our program includes not only exercise but a nutritional component too with trained dietitians.

Can people decide to exercise and eat right on their own? You bet! But what I’ve noted is that as humans most of us enjoy the company of others with whom we can share our health and fitness journey. September is approaching and all those holiday parties and events. Whether you’re ready to look better at an event in the “On the Scene” photos in The Forum, want to impress the folks at your class reunion or just want to do something positive for yourself and your family, good health is always in style. So get out and exercise and make it happen.

Ken Paulovich, RN, is director of the WK Fitness & Wellness Centers and a longtime proponent of exercise as a means to achieve good health.

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