By Joseph Kohn ARNP
For many of us, this time of year is the start of “activity season.” The weather is finally warming up and drying out, at least partly.
The month of May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, which means it is a great time to discuss sports and fitness for the whole family. It is also one of my favorite times of the year. I get to hang up the heavy winter coat in favor of a tee shirt and jeans – maybe even shorts and athletic shoes if I am lucky.
The most recent public health rankings for Grays Harbor County reports that we live an average of 3.36 years less than the rest of the state, and our county ranks 36 out of 39 for overall health outcomes. Not good. Keep in mind, these numbers are statistics, and there are many variables that contribute to poor health outcomes; physical health is only part of the equation.
Increasing our weekly activity level is the most effective way to improve the overall health of our community.
As a healthcare provider who emphasizes health and wellness with my patients, the word “activity” is music to my ears. With the turn of the seasons and improved weather, this is the best time to start increasing our daily activity and improving our health.
National physical activity guidelines for adults are at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity each week. For ages 6-18 years, the goal is at least 60 minutes per day of varied activities, rather than just participating in one sport year-round.
Developing routines to reach the national goal is not always easy, but you’ll be relieved to know that it doesn’t require a gym membership or athleticism. There are numerous opportunities presented to all of us each day that can help us reach our goals.
Moderate intensity workouts include briskly walking for longer than 10-minute intervals, general gardening, hiking, and bicycling slower than 10 mph.
If you are a runner or high intensity enthusiast, 75 minutes per week is adequate. A varied exercise regimen is key to a sustained activity routine and will reap greater rewards than one repeating exercise.
The benefits from developing good weekly activity habits are numerous and include strong evidence that regular activity lowers the risk for nearly every major disease, including the top 12 leading causes of death (not to mention you just feel better).
As with any major life change that may stress your body, please consult your primary care provider before making any life altering changes.
Increased activity is important and crucial to health, so taking the proper precautions to avoid injuries is important. The most common sporting injuries are soft tissue strains, tears, bruises, and soreness. The most injured joints are the knees, ankles and back.
Proper prevention starts with a good, healthy warm-up and stretch. Warm-up and stretching can usually be completed in 3 to 5 minutes with various routines and one to two exercises that warm-up the muscles. Warm-up routines can include jumping jacks or running in place. Stretching after any exercise will help increase flexibility and strength of the muscle.
If you happen to sustain an injury, here are some guidelines to remember:
• First 48-72 hours following an injury, use the RICE principle (rest, ice, compression and elevation).
• Post 72 hours, continue to use compression, elevation, and mix in heat and motion.
• Typical injuries go through three stages of healing: inflammatory, regeneration and remodeling.
• Most soft tissue injuries recover in greater than 3 weeks.
Helpful points for everyone to remember:
• Most adults should be consuming 2-3 liters of water daily.
• The Centers for Disease Control defines obesity as a BMI, or body mass index, greater than 30.
• Normal caloric diet for someone with a sedentary lifestyle is 1800 -2200 calories per day; increased activity allows for an additional 200-400 calories per day.
Helpful conversions for 175-pound male caloric burn:
• Walking at a speed of 2.5 mph for 60 min = 159 calories
• Jogging at a speed of 5 mph for 60 min = 557 calories
• Mowing lawn by hand mower for 60 min = 398
Helpful conversion for 140-pound females:
• Walking at a speed of 2.5 mph for 60 min = 127 calories
• Jogging at a speed of 5 mph for 60 min = 445 calories
• Mowing lawn by hand mower = 318 calories
Joseph Kohn ARNP is a same-day clinic provider at Summit Pacific Medical Center in Elma.