(Pictured: Abby Dunlap, Certified Health Coach and Exercise Specialist)
The pictures are all over social media – fitness models showing off
their sculpted physiques, doing yoga poses or lifting heavy weights. Reality
TV shows depict drastic weight loss and extreme makeovers. These days
America seems fitness-obsessed, and yet in North Carolina nearly 50% of
people don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity.
“Physical fitness is not about looking like a celebrity. It’s
more important than that,” said Iredell Health System’s Employee
Health and Wellness Nurse Elaine Hendershot. “It’s about living
a healthier life and preventing disease. You can feel better about yourself
and be around for your family. That’s great motivation to incorporate
physical activity into your routine.”
In January many of us head back to the gym, only to be intimidated by
intense exercise or unable to stick with a new routine. Iredell Health
System is encouraging the community and its own employees to work exercise
into their daily lives all year long. Hendershot organizes activities
and wellness challenges for IHS employees, getting them to take more steps
or use the stairs.
“Just like we schedule time for work and our families, we need to
schedule time to take care of ourselves,” said Hendershot. “There
are all kinds of ways to make exercise a regular part of your routine.
You have to find what works best for you.”
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults aim
for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, which
equals an average of 30 minutes a day, five times a week. Certified Health
Coach and Exercise Specialist Abby Dunlap helps Iredell Health System
patients get active. She says you don’t always have to reach your
daily goals at once.
“You can break up your physical activity into 10 minute increments
if necessary,” said Dunlap. “Just focus on moving. Moderate
physical activity can include things like raking leaves or walking fast.
It is important that you increase your heart rate, enough where you can
still talk, but you wouldn’t be able to sing.”
Dunlap also says not to rush into vigorous exercise if you are just beginning.
You can start by taking things slow. As you begin to exercise on a regular
basis, do something you enjoy. Having fun can be the key to success.
“If you are decisive, independent, and self-disciplined, you may
benefit from working out alone. Set specific goals and regularly track
your progress. If you thrive in social settings and are motivated by encouragement,
you may benefit from working out with others — join a group exercise
class, team, or have an accountability partner. If you are drawn to activities
that are engaging and fun and are easily bored with structured exercise,
you may benefit from a variety of activities, so look at cross training
and use a variety of different types of exercise to reach your goals,”
she said. “When trying to find the right type of exercise for you,
it is helpful to look at your interests and personality.”
Your healthcare provider can offer advice about starting a fitness routine.
To find a provider near you, visit IredellHealth.org.