Although I said in my last post that I do not tend to make New Year’s resolutions, I know almost everyone else does. One of the most frequent is to lose weight, which often involves exercising more. As a doctor and specifically a musculoskeletal specialist, I ask all my patients about exercise. Not just “Do you exercise?” I try to ask everyone “What do you do for exercise?” The most frequent answers are “Nothing” or “I try to walk.” Here in New England during the winter, I know that “I try to walk” really means “I’ll exercise when the snow melts.” However, the American Heart Association recommends that all healthy adults aged 18-65 need moderate intensity aerobic activity at least 30 minutes 5 days a week or vigorous activity at least 20 minutes 3 days a week. These guidelines, plus those for older adults, are found here. Yes, I know this says healthy adults, and I often hear “I can’t exercise, I have arthritis!” The Arthritis Foundation would disagree with you. The Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program was formerly known as PACE, or People with Arthritis Can Exercise. I liked that name, because it speaks the truth. People with arthritis CAN and SHOULD exercise. “Use it or lose it,” we sometimes say. More information about exercise for folks with arthritis are found under the fitness tab on the Arthritis Foundation website. I’ve written before about what it’s like to learn new athletic skills as an adult.
Here are some other ideas:
- Check out this article in The New York Times about cost savings on gym memberships.
- Water exercise is one of the best forms of physical activity for people with arthritis or other musculoskeletal conditions. If you don’t have access to a gym with a pool, check out local community colleges and high schools which may have hours for public use.
- Colleges and high schools may also allow the public to use their workout rooms. I know of one local high school that opens its gym to the public on evenings and weekends. If your town does not do this, why not ask?
- Community colleges and city departments of parks and recreation often have classes. I have taken a yoga class and a pilates class and while both were not fancy (held in a school gym) they were cheaper than at a yoga studio!
- Schedule walks outside or at a mall with a friend. If your neighborhood doesn’t have safe sidewalks or streets, drive to a different area or to a park. Many malls open early for walkers. I didn’t know this, not being a frequent 8am mall visitor. One Sunday morning we had a special work event at one of the mall stores and I was amazed that the place was full of people exercising! Ask the customer service desk what time they open for walkers.
- Some gyms, especially independent gyms or yoga studios, will give free or discounted classes if you volunteer to clean or work the check-in desk.
- I was introduced to the Leslie Sansone videos through Weight Watchers. A lot of people just getting started on their exercise journey seem to like these videos, which involve walking in place and doing some upper body movements.
- While on the subject of exercise videos, most libraries will have these you can check out, Netflix has a whole category of workout DVDs if you belong to that service. Both of these will allow you to try something before purchasing it. In addition, many cable TV services with “on demand” have fitness channels with different workouts.
- A site like www.yogadownload.com has free 20 minute yoga sessions, and longer ones are quite affordable. I recommend that if you are new to yoga, you take some classes first if possible. Even though there are PDFs of the poses, nothing beats an instructor making sure that your positioning is correct.
- Do you have a friend or family member with home gym equipment? Will they let you come over and use it?
- I’m afraid I can’t comment on the whole Wii fit phenomenon as I’ve never used it, but so many of my patients are now saying that is how they are exercising. Do you have one? Does a friend who will let you try it out?
Good luck with your exercise resolutions!