Health Corner: Exercise

BY FRANCES POLUMSKY
For the UAS Whalesong

Exercise benefits mind and body. Did you know aerobic exercise improves cognitive function, and changes brain structure? Studies have shown there is a clear connection between exercise and cognitive performance: the more aerobic exercise the individuals engaged in, the better they performed on verbal, perceptual and mathematical tests. Research results also found aerobic training improved cognitive performance and active lifestyles decreased age-related risks for cognitive impairment and dementia. (Colcombe & Kramer 2003). Improving cardio vascular performance has a positive impact on health related factors.

Resistance training also benefits mind and body. Researchers, Len Kravitz, PhD and Amenda Ramirez from the University of New Mexico concluded resistance training is a meaningful intervention for people suffering from anxiety and that the lower intensity for the resistance training the more effective it is in reducing anxiety. Resistance training benefits include executive function, improvement in memory and memory-related tasks and improved self-esteem as well as gaining lean mass which leads to a higher metabolic rate.

Mind-body practices such as mindfulness meditation, yoga and Tai Chi promote physical and mental health benefits. Managing stress, depression, tension, fatigue, anger and anxiety are benefits of these practices.

Participating in a well-designed fitness plan is essential. A complete fitness program consists of a minimum of 3 days per week to include the three major components of fitness; aerobic (cardiovascular), resistance training and flexibility.

*Minimum recommendations for aerobic training is 30 minutes, 3 times a week. Examples of these activities include, jogging, running, cycling, treadmill, elliptical, Nordic skiing and swimming. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is time efficient with health and fitness results in 20 to 30 minutes 2 times a week.

*Resistance training minimum recommendations are 2 times a week for a total body workout. Examples of resistance training include resistance training programs with challenging weights, 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions to fatigue, targeting each major muscle group; total body workouts with light weights and multiple repetitions, in group exercise classes such as Power Pump, Body Pump and Group Power.

*Flexibility and mindfulness recommendations include post stretching after your workout and participating in yoga, Tai Chi or  meditation several times a week.

Want more fitness and health related information? Check out the physical education offerings at UAS. Want a personal fitness program designed specifically for your needs? Contact me at the Rec Center for personal training. Access ACEfitness.org. (American Council on Exercise) for fitness information on line at your fingertips!

Frances I. Polumsky received her Bachelors of Science in Physical Education from Boise State University and her Masters from the University of Idaho. She is a UAS Physical Education Adjunct and a Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor at the UAS Recreation Center.

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