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Getting back on fitness wagon

Members of the 50th Space Wing participate in the monthly Warfit Run Oct. 11 at the main fitness center. The run is designed to promote fitness and camaraderie.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Bill Evans)

Members of the 50th Space Wing participate in the monthly Warfit Run Oct. 11, 2012, at the main fitness center. Fitness is essential to Airmen's readiness.

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Fitness is essential to healthy living.

This mantra has been pounded into every service member's brain ever since they joined the military. Even before that, parents and teachers have taught their children or students the importance of being fit.

However as time went by, that lesson seemed to have been lost on the wayside as priorities change. Once people decide to go back to the fitness wagon, there are decisions and a lot of thinking they need to do.

"Fitness is the most important thing you could do for yourself," said Seth Cannello, Schriver fitness and sports manager. "A lot of people say their job or their family is their No. 1 priority, but if you're not fit or healthy, you can't perform well at your job or provide for your family. To me, being fit and working out is almost like taking out an insurance policy."

The following are nuggets people should consider when planning to be fit:

Have a goal

Just like every program, individuals should begin with mapping out a plan with a specific goal. Some people aim to pass their fitness test while others want muscular strength or aerobic endurance.

"When you start an exercise program, you need to have a goal," Cannello said. "You should have short and long-range goals. You need to stick with your program because consistency is the key to success."

According to Dr. J. Nadine Garcia, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health, committing to physical fitness doesn't mean running laps on a track, stepping onto a basketball court or even joining a gym. It doesn't have to involved fancy equipment or expensive gear.

"It's not difficult to put a program together; but it's difficult to execute the program," Cannello said. "There are organizations and people on base that could help out; there is also information available online. You have to sit down and map out your plan. The people who have the best plans are the people who are the most fit."

Supplements or no supplements?

"Supplements are expensive," Cannello said.

Browsing through a dietary supplement website, one could see that price for a month's worth of protein powders, pre-workout supplements or fat burners costs from $35 to more than $100.

"A lot of times, because supplements are not regulated like most food, a lot of them don't work," Cannello said. "In my opinion, if you eat properly, you don't really need supplements."

However, protein shakes may be helpful if the goal is to bulk up or an individual is burning a lot of calories.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, supplements should not replace the variety of foods that are important to a healthy diet.

"Basically, It's all hard work," Cannello said. "You just have to adjust your diet. But it's very hard to do."

Time

"One of the things I see people do wrong is they read things online or books that says you only need to work out three times a week for 30 minutes and that's what they do," Cannello said. "They only do the bare minimum. If you do that, all you're doing is maintaining."

Depending on your goal, individuals may need to work out 45 minutes to an hour five times a week or more, he said.

"Someone who wants to lose 30 pounds in six months is going to have to work out a lot harder than someone who just wants to pass their fitness test," Cannello said. "It just depends on where they want to go."

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated adults need at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.

Individuals may perform one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week and muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week. An equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week may also be enough.

"A very important thing when you're working out is consistency," Cannello said. "A lot of people get frustrated when they are working out because they don't see the results they want. If they just stick with it, and give it some time, they are going to see results."

Boredom

For some people, the repetitiveness of working out makes it boring and uninteresting.

"They do the same things over and over again," Cannello said. "Your body gets used to those things. You need to change your program up and try different exercises or activities you don't like to do. Try things that will make you uncomfortable. That's how you get the most benefit out of your workout."

He said if the workout is boring, it's probably because they've done it too often. You may need to change some aspects of your program.

For people who dislike going to the gym, they may have to find other avenues to burn calories.

"They may enjoy hiking," Cannello said. "They could hike in the wilderness. If you hike long enough they're going to see health benefits. There are ways to trick your mind if you don't enjoy exercising. The bottom line is you have to work hard to see gains."

Rest

Not a lot of people know that rest and recovery from exercise is just as essential.

"Rest is important," Cannello said. "You definitely need to give yourself a break. If you are really tired, it's better to take a day of rest and come back stronger the following day where you could actually do more work."

However, if individuals are not giving their maximum effort because they are just tired, this is a different matter.

"People who don't really know how to work out or people are not used to working out hard, get sore and they take that as a sign that they have to really back off," Cannello said. "It's a hard mix because you do have to back off at times but being sore is normal also so you just have to find that right balance between how hard to work out and how much time to take off. The big mistake that people make is they take off too much time."

Cannello said the most important thing is consistency.

"You're going to have days where you're going to be sore or tired and you don't want to work hard and that's OK," he said. "Listen to your body. If your body needs a day off, then take a day off. But don't give up. Continue with your program. I really like the saying a slip is not a fall and it certainly applies to exercise. You're going to slip some days, just make sure you don't fall off the wagon."

For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/index.html or http://www.fitness.gov/ or call the main fitness center at 567-6628.