The Start to the New You!

Assistant Director of Fitness & Recreational Services

At the start of a new year, many individuals adopt the resolution to exercise more. Just how much is enough? For optimal health, the American Heart Association recommends participating in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week, for a total of 150 minutes. Moderate activities include those such as walking or riding your bike. The recommendation for more challenging activities such as swimming or running is 25 minutes of vigorous activity three days a week for a total of 75 minutes.

What constitutes a moderate or vigorous activity? The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a great self-monitoring tool that can be used for determining which type of activity one is participating in. The RPE scale ranges from 1-20, with one indicating little effort and 20 being the highest amount of exertion possible. Moderate activities are those that are rated 11-14 and vigorous is rated 17-19. A combination of moderate and vigorous activity works as well.

Don’t forget about resistance training either. Individuals begin to lose their muscle mass in their thirties at a rate of 10% per decade. Adopting the habit of resistance training now will help you maintain your muscle mass in the years to come. The Centers for Disease Control recommends aiming for participating in resistance activities that work all major muscle groups two days a week. Not sure how to work with weights? Attend one of the Strength and Conditioning classes in the fitness center or see the director or assistant director of fitness and recreational services for guidance and instruction.

In addition to the physiological benefits will reaped from exercise, students may benefit academically as well. As stated in the Harvard Health Letter from April 2014, aerobic exercise has been found to increase the size of the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Need more motivation to exercise? Exercise helps increase one’s quality of sleep. Sleep is critical to one’s overall health, stress management and memory retention.

Adherence to exercise is one of the biggest challenges society faces. Enjoying the activities is crucial to adherence to any exercise program, so it is important to play around and see what a student prefers. Some people enjoy the social aspect of exercise, so find a friend and go for a brisk 30-minute walk or try out one of the group exercise classes in the Student Commons. Does 30 minutes a day sound like too much? Start small and set goals. Aim for 15 minutes a day, and move up from there. If a student feel overwhelmed committing to an exercise plan, he or she should envision times in the past where he or she has succeeded, whether it’s academically or otherwise. Share these goals with others to receive the social support and accountability required to succeed.