The first Saturday in May is known as “National Fitness Day”. Kim Bielak founded the day in 2017. Bielak is a life and career coach and wanted to “promote empowerment through physical and mental health and wellbeing”.
To celebrate the day the way it was intended, I sent a few questions to Greg Maurer, vice president of fitness and education at Workout Anytime, a fitness center franchise. (Workout Anytime North Boise is located at 7048 W. State St. and is open 24/7.)
Maurer spoke about how we could all get back on the fitness train after a year of paralyzed pandemic panic.
Jeanne Huff: What are three simple things people can incorporate into their daily lives to improve their health and wellbeing in terms of fitness?
Greg Maurer: Walking at least 10,000 steps a day is a great way to incorporate exercise into everyday life.
YH: Is weightlifting more effective at increasing fitness than running, jogging, or other aerobic exercise?
GM: It all depends on your personal fitness goals. For example, weight training doesn’t burn as many calories as cardio, but studies show that weight training builds muscle and burns more calories when you rest.
YH: How important is it to exercise – i.e. pushups, situps, leg raises, arm exercises, etc.?
GM: The importance of exercise cannot be emphasized enough! Regular exercise is the most powerful step you can take:
• Improve your overall health.
• Reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
• Improve your quality of life, including improved sleep, increased energy, and improved mental health at the same time!
YH: What about the diet – so many have “gained the COVID-19” pounds – what simple steps can people take to lose their daily diet and lose the right way?
GM: Drink water, drink water, drink water! Adequate hydration is not only calorie-free, but can also curb your appetite. Before reaching for a snack, drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes. You will find that you will eat a lot less with a stomach full of H2O.
YH: What creative options are there if children spend more time indoors during the pandemic, taking them outside and getting exercise?
GM: Children follow where they are led and generally enjoy activities as soon as they start. Set a daily routine that includes a fun outdoor activity with lots of exercise. Insist on everyone (including you) taking part!
YH: As you get older, it seems to be harder to keep fit. What tips can you offer to get quick results and keep people motivated?
GM: Consistency is the name of the game for results! The key is to find forms of exercise that you enjoy so that you can participate regularly. Everything counts and all exercises improve your health and quality of life. Activities include hiking, yoga, tai chi, group exercise classes (including video-on-demand options that can be done at home), swimming, biking, tennis, and paddle ball.
Try activities that you can do with a friend – it is often easier to get exercise every day when you can enjoy it with a friend or family members. Finding multiple activities that you enjoy will help you avoid boredom and overuse injuries.
YH: What about mental outlook – how important is it to general fitness?
GM: Mental attitude is extremely important, but remember that exercising regularly will almost always improve mental attitude. In fact, regular exercise outperformed prescription drugs for depression and anxiety in several studies.
It can also be helpful to focus on improving your mental outlook through mindful practices such as meditation. Studies have shown that exercise is key to optimal brain function, including cognitive function and memory.
YH: Can you describe your favorite exercise program?
GM: Simple outdoor training sessions in a playground that include:
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• Step-ups on a bench or stairs for cardiovascular training and lower physical strength.
• Push-ups for chest, shoulder, arm and core strength.
• Pull-ups or reverse rows on a bar for upper back strength.
• Standing down rollouts with a swing for core strength and toning.
All of this can be done for 8 to 15 repetitions, 2 to 3 times with less than 30 seconds of rest between each exercise, to keep the cardiovascular system active.
YH: What are your five best training tips?
GM: 1) In addition to exercising, focus on important recovery practices, including good sleep, excellent nutrition, and hydration.
2) Find a workout that you actually enjoy and are more likely to hold onto it!
3) Start small, but make time for fitness. The benefits are endless, and even 10 minutes of exercise a day can improve overall health.
4) Moderate alcohol and caffeine consumption, which if taken too much can sabotage your exercise progress and health.
5) If you’d like to take a measurement to track your progress towards better health and fitness, buy a heart rate monitor and use an app like EliteHRV to monitor your “heart rate variability” simultaneously on a daily basis. Lifestyle measures such as exercise, what you eat, your rest, your stress level, and when you exercise and eat all affect this measurement. This is the best way to see how your heart and nervous system are handling stress!
As you keep track of what you do, eat, and drink, you will learn how to optimize your health and fitness for your unique physiology.
Jeanne Huff is the Community Engagement Editor for Idaho Press. You can reach her at 208-465-8106 and follow her on Twitter @goodnewsgirl.