By Glynis Weaver, MPH, RD
Clinical Dietitian, Barton HealthCare System
With summer's long warm days and early sunrises turning to dark chilly mornings, we all feel winter just around the corner. Here in the Lake Tahoe Basin we know the benefit of fitness so we make the most of the plethora of activities inviting us to play outside year round.
Summer days started at dawn with hiking and biking along the basins ascending trail systems. Afternoons spent paddling and swimming in our beautiful lake will soon turn to early mornings of making first chair, and powder untouched for those of us willing to ski through waist deep snow just for the freshest snow atop the chair-less peaks. Mother Nature will challenge our level of fitness, daring us to take it one step farther. To make the climb, be it on foot, bike or ski, we must maintain our cardiovascular health, especially at this altitude.
The new physical activity guidelines put out by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in collaboration with the American Heart Association (AHA) have been updated. The research from ACSM and AHA yields new Physical Activity Recommendations for healthy adults under the age of 65 which include:
- Moderately Intense, or to the point of breaking a sweat with a cardio work out 30 minutes, five days a week
- Vigorously Intense Cardio, or to the point where it is nearly impossible to have a conversation, 20 minutes three days a week.
- In addition to aerobics add eight to 10 strength training exercises with eight to 12 repetitions each, two times a week. These exercises are important to minimize bone and muscle losses that occur as we age.
- After exercise, stretch for 10 minutes to help your muscles and tendons recover more quickly and aid injury prevention.
- For folks over age 65 or 50-64 with chronic conditions, the same physical activity recommendations apply; with additional recommendations that you add balance exercises (such as Pilates) and have partner or set plan to increase your participation.
- These are just the minimum recommendations to maintain fitness. If you can do more, do!
If you feel strapped for time due to work or family obligations then exercising in short bouts may help on busy days. Make a â€œfamily activity time:â€ Take a walk together, play Frisbee, have a snowball fight just move more. New research shows that moderate intensity physical activity accumulated throughout the day in three 10-minute increments can be just as effective at improving cardiovascular health as exercising for 30 minutes.
Mixing activities up with a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity may also make it easier to fit the recommendations into your schedule. Combine two days a week walking for 30 minutes with two days a week of a fast paced jog for 20 minutes.
Scheduling is everything set aside time for your self on specific days. After all, if you don't take care of number one, who will?
You don't need a gym membership or a season pass to maintain fitness; a comfortable pair of shoes or boots and little motivation is all you need, a buddy may help with the motivation.
The goal is to maintain or improve your cardiovascular health. This will give you more strength and energy to enjoy our beautiful surroundings. As a nutritionist I must mention the importance of frequent snacking to sustain your energy and ensure optimal performance during recreation. Pack healthy snacks for the road, lake or trail. Fruits and veggies like mini-carrots, raisins, cranberries or apple slices provide your body with energy and lots of nutrients. Protein sources such as nuts and seeds, with fruits and veggies, will provide a balanced intake of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Nut butters like almond or peanut butter spread on apples or whole grain crackers are a sure thing. If you have a cooler, consider yogurt or low fat cheese and fruit slices. Hydration is important to your performance and metabolism so take plenty of water or locate a safe water source along the way as well as at your destination to stay hydrated. Most of all enjoy yourself knowing you are getting healthier.