Locals train at a kettlebell class at Energy Fitness in Paducah. Joining a group class at a local gym is one way to begin and maintain an exercise regimen that is suited to your fitness goals.
Steve Durbin, president of the West Kentucky Runners Club, took a nearly two-decade break from running after high school. “I didn’t start running again until I was coerced into it by my brother, John, and my friend Mark Vance,” Durbin said.
“They ran regularly and I was intrigued by, and somewhat jealous of, the cool places they would go to run marathons.”
Now 57, Durbin said he achieved some of his best times just a couple years ago. According to Durbin, many members of the WKRC are at least in their 40s, and not all of them have been lifelong runners.
Athletes like Durbin prove that active lifestyles are possible to everyone, at every age. And with the Olympic Games in full swing, what better time to get inspired and take steps toward become more fit? After reading these tips from fitness experts, make sure to contact your physician to discuss your exercise regime.
Start slowly and set realistic goals
Observers advise patience for those who are beginning a fitness program. “People think of it as a sprint, not a marathon,” said Felisha Prescott, manager of the local Snap Fitness locations. “They expect to see results too fast.”
“The body needs time to accommodate to new demands,” said Vance, a licensed physical therapist and owner of Rehab Associates of Paducah.”We should expect physical changes to occur over weeks, not days.”
To avoid this pitfall, set realistic short- and long-term goals based on individual health needs. Vance advises taking a physical activity readiness questionnaire at home, or finding a physical therapist or personal trainer to evaluate your fitness level.
Durbin offers an example for those interested in taking up running. “Start slowly and gradually build up your mileage. Incorporate a mixture of walking with running. Begin with a mile and increase as you build fitness,” Durbin said.
Goals will vary widely based on individual needs and interests, but for general guidelines, Vance suggests following the American Heart Association, which recommends moderate activity 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
“Cardio activity, you want about four times a week. Weight lifting or resistance training, you want two to three,” Vance said.
Find the time
If this sounds difficult to fit into your daily schedule, you’re not alone. One of the biggest excuses for not maintaining an exercise program is lack of time.
Vance said that many people think about exercise the wrong way. “A lot of folks consider exercise a hobby or leisure time activity. They say, ‘Everything’s done, so I’m going to go for a nice walk,’” Vance said.
Instead, consider exercise medicine. “If you take a medicine, you don’t take it because you enjoy it. If you have diabetes, you don’t say, ‘I don’t have time to take this insulin today,’” Vance said.
Prescott added that exercise can actually increase productivity, making it easier for active people to find the time to do more in all aspects of life.
“Often, when people make the excuse of not having time, it’s actually a lack of energy,” Prescott said. “Once they take that step (of committing to a workout program), the exercise gives them more energy, and they’re able to find the time.”
Prescott said this is because the body functions more efficiently when it is active. “You have more oxygenated blood, which makes you think faster. Your response is quicker, and you finish tasks faster because you don’t have that sluggish feeling,” Prescott said.
To start the path to better health, find ways to fit activity into your everyday schedule.
“Take the stairs. If you go to the mall, park away from the door so that you can walk. If you live near shopping, walk to the grocery or ride your bike,” Vance said.
Circuit training programs, which combine strength and cardio, can also allow people to double up and save time, Vance said.
Motivational tools are as variable as fitness needs, but observers agree that finding a workout buddy is one of the best ways to maintain motivation.
“If there’s somebody that’s going to hold you accountable and motivate you, you can also share that same commitment. It makes it easier,” Vance said. “With my running friends, and now my cycling friends, it’s like group therapy. We all help each other through daily problems, and things like the death of family members. A strong camaraderie can develop.”
Committing to an organized event, such as a 5K run or walk, can give you a concrete deadline to work toward and keep you on track to meet your goals, Vance said. “There’s a 5K just about every six weeks around here. We have triathlons and trail runs just in our backyard. There’s a lot of things going on that we can commit to, and it’s important to make that commitment.”
Vance recommends visiting a web site, such as active.com, which lists local running and cycling events, along with information on registration.
and reward yourself
Once you have set achievable goals and begun to meet them, make sure you recognize your accomplishments.
“I like to use a calendar method on my fridge to highlight the days I work out, for multiple reasons.” Prescott said. “You’re going to the refrigerator a lot, so you see it constantly. It’s in sight, in mind. It will also help with the nutrition, because if you look on there and you have slack on your workout, you won’t grab that double cheeseburger from the fridge.”
However, indulgence is acceptable from time to time.
“You need some type of reward system. After 30 days of working out, I like to treat myself to Mexican food,” Prescott said.
Call Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff
writer, at 575-8641.