Sunday, September 15, 2019

Reorganizing Your Physical Well-being

STRESS LESS LIVE MORE


In my last column I introduced Reorganize, the fifth level of defense against stress in my Five R’s of Coping (Rethink, Reduce, Relax, Release, Reorganize) Model©. As I discussed, Reorganize is a lifestyle-based based approach to conquering your stress that makes you more hardy and stress-resistant.

In the next seven columns I’ll show you how to take seven easy action steps to reorganize all of the dimensions of your health. Take at least seven weeks to do this. Work on one aspect of your health in each of the coming seven weeks. By the end of the seventh week you’ll have taken steps to improve all seven dimensions of your health and you’ll be on your way to becoming more stress-resistant by building a healthier lifestyle.

Reorganizing Your Physical Well-being

More than any other aspect of your physical well-being, exercise will do the most to help you become more resistant to stress. A key to reorganizing your physical well-being is making exercise, especially cardiovascular or aerobic activity, a priority and a part of your daily activities and lifestyle. Many activities can be used to develop aerobic fitness but I recommend walking because it is the easiest and least expensive heart/lung exercise you can engage in. 

There are two pieces of equipment that I recommend buying; walking/running shoes and a heart rate monitor. To avoid knee, hip, and leg problems you must buy a good pair of walking/running shoes. Buy your shoes from a reputable sporting goods dealer so you can talk to the salesperson about the various styles and try on a few pairs. You want to be sure that they fit correctly and give you the cushioning and support you’ll need to walk six days a week. You can walk in old sweat clothes, shorts, a T-shirt, or whatever you feel comfortable wearing. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on clothes to get walking. Adjust your clothing to the weather. Remember, you will raise your body temperature as a result of the activity, so do not overdress. Make sure to bring along a bottle of water so you can take water breaks and stay hydrated.

Exercise # 3: A Mild to Moderate Intensity Walking Program for Beginners.

Purpose: The Mild to Moderate Intensity Walking Program for Beginners, is designed for beginning walkers who are in good health. The idea is to get you moving if you’ve never engaged in a regular program of exercise. You must see your physician first to ensure that you are in good health and can start a regular exercise program. Do not worry about the intensity of your activity level at this point. Concentrate more on the level of activity and working up to 150 minutes /week by the end of the 12 week program. For the first couple of weeks if you need to stop at any point do so. The idea the first couple of weeks is to just get moving.

Warning: If you have pre-existing health problems or are in poor physical condition do not begin either of these walking programs without first discussing them with your physician.

Instructions:

1. Wear comfortable walking or running shoes that fit well.

2. Use proper walking technique. Proper walking technique begins with a good foot strike that allows your ankle to move through its complete range of motion. To accomplish this use the following three guidelines: (a) step forward landing squarely on the heel of your foot, (b) roll forward onto the ball of your foot, and (c) raise your heel and push off with your big toe. As the heel of your front foot strikes the ground you are simultaneously being propelled forward by your back foot pushing off the ground. Unlike a running stride, your feet should never lift off the ground completely when walking.

3. To reduce risk of injury, it is important to increase the amount of physical activity gradually over a period of weeks to months. If it is too difficult for you to walk for total minutes suggested in this program (15, 20, etc.) you can break the total time down into three different walking sessions each day.  For example, an inactive person could start with a walking program consisting of 5 minutes of slow walking 3 times per day for three days during the first week.

Weeks  1 & 2

1. Walk on Monday , Wednesday, and Friday.

2. Walk for 15 minutes each session.

3. Walk at a comfortable pace.

4. Feel free to stop and start again but walk for a total of 15 minutes.

Weeks 3 & 4

1. Add an additional session (walk 15 minutes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday  and Friday).

or

2. Add an additional 5 minutes (walk for 20 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).

3. Walk at a comfortable pace.

4. Feel free to stop and start again but walk for a total of 15 or 20 minutes.

Week 5 

1. Walk on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

2. Walk for 20 minutes each session.

3. Walk at a comfortable, continuous pace.

4. Do not stop during your walk.

Weeks 6 & 7

1. Add an additional session (walk 20 minutes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday  and Friday).

or

2. Add an additional 5 minutes (walk for 25 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).

3. Walk at a comfortable, continuous pace.

4. Do not stop during your walk.

Week 8 

1. Walk on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

2. Walk for 25 minutes each session.

3. Walk at a comfortable, continuous pace.

4. Do not stop during your walk.

Weeks 9, 10, 11

1. Add an additional session (walk 25 min on Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri & Saturday).

or

2. Add an additional 5 minutes (walk for 30 minutes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday).

3. Start (warm up) each session with 5 minutes of walking at a relaxed intensity and then pick up the pace and walk at an intensity over RPE 4 for 15 or 20 minutes depending upon the number of sessions you choose. End each session with a 5 minute cool down by walking at a comfortable pace.

4. Do not stop during your walk.

Week 12

1. Walk on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday

2. Walk for 30 minutes each session.

3. Start (warm up) each session with 5 minutes of walking at a relaxed intensity and then pick up the pace and walk at an intensity over RPE 5 for 20 minutes. End each session with a 5 minute cool down by walking at a comfortable pace.

4. Do not stop during your walk. (USDHHS, 2008)

Once you reach this 12 week threshold you will obtain an aerobic training effect from your walking. Continue walking at this level for a couple of months. At that point you will probably have to increase the demand on your heart and lungs to obtain an aerobic effect.

Reference:

United States Department of Health & Human Services [USDHHS]. (2008). 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans. Washington, DC: US Govt. Printing Office. Available online www.health.gov/paguidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf

Dr. Rich Blonna is an expert in understanding how the mind and body work together in creating and managing stress. He is the author of several stress self-help books and courses and the popular college textbook, Coping With Stress in a Changing World 5th Ed; McGraw-Hill Publishing. He is a retired Professor Emeritus from William Paterson University in New Jersey. For over 25 years he has devoted himself to helping people just like you stress less and live more. www.drrichblonna.com.

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