GET THEE TO THE GYM!
In this space we’ve written often about exercise and its health benefits. This month, we’re focusing on the gym. National Health Center Week occurs in August, which makes this the perfect time to think about the gym – and the Air Force Fitness Center. So check out our gym tips for adults, and fitness tips for children.
COULD YOU BE A GYM RAT?
Exercising outside is great when the weather is cooperating.
Exercising indoors in a gym is also great.
• Weight control. It all adds up. Burning 500 calories per day, or 3,500 calories per week,
can help a person lose one pound per week.
• Heart health. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control says that going to the gym
for 30 minutes per day, for five days per week, may lower your risk of developing heart
disease or having a stroke.
• Motivation. Once you get there, you’ll be among other people who are getting and staying fit.
It’s energizing to see others movin’ and groovin’ or whatever it is that they’re doin’.
• Mood. Exercise promotes better sleep, and better sleep promotes a better mood.
It’s a win-win.
• Strength and flexibility. It’s a good idea to combine aerobic exercise with strength training
at the gym. This helps your muscles, ligaments, joints and tendons which, in combination,
can make you stronger and more flexible.
GYM TIPS AND ETIQUETTE
Whether you’re at the Air Force Fitness Center or the local YMCA, there are things you need to know about gyms in terms of weights, machines and etiquette.
• Treadmills. Treadmills accounted for more than 24,000 injuries severe
enough to require an emergency room visit in 2014. Safety on a treadmill
is largely a matter of paying attention. When you’re reading, or listening
to tunes, you’re not focused on your run. Unplug and feel the burn!
• Exercise mats. Think of all the sweat that they accumulate! They can also
harbor bacteria and viruses which you don’t want to touch. If exercising
on a mat, put a towel over the surface so you never touch the mat.
Or bring your own.
• Exercise equipment. Wipe it down before you use it, and AFTER you use
it. Many gyms have antibacterial wipes you can use. Others provide a
spray that you can use and then wipe with a gym towel.
• Showers. Believe it or not, the gym shower can make you sick. The best
advice is to wear a cheap pair of flip flops in the shower so you don’t
come into contact with any of these: community-acquired MRSA (an
antibiotic-resistant staph infection), foot fungus, hepatitis A or norovirus
(the vomiting flu bug). Most showers are cleaned and disinfected
regularly, so foot protection should do the trick. The other option is to
shower at home.
• Weights. Although treadmills cause the most injuries that end up in the
emergency room, weights cause the most injuries by total number. Put
them away when you’re done so you don’t injure others, and when
increasing your weights, do it gradually. If you need three spotters to
lift your weights, you’re overloaded.
• Other. Make sure there is an attendant on duty when you work out. David
Goldberg, the CEO of Survey Monkey, died after presumably falling off a
treadmill and suffering severe head trauma. Perhaps his life could have
been saved had there been an attendant on hand to call 911 or start
CPR. At gyms with an attendant on duty, the survival rate of a cardiac
event is 56%, compared with 45% at gyms without an attendant, and 34%
for exercisers who have a cardiac event at a shopping mall.
KIDS AT THE GYM
You won’t see kids in the weight room, but you will see them on the basketball court (playing dodge ball?) and in the pool. Parents may be wondering how much exercise children need to get and we’re here to help. By age, here is how much exercise your growing children should be getting:
• Infants. Babies just need to be encouraged to engage in anything that
encourages motor development.
• Toddlers. One and a half hours per day is the recommended amount
spent in two periods. Try 30 minutes of a planned activity (tag with
siblings or parents) and one hour of unstructured physical activity
(free play) such as a trip a local park. This activity will help them
sleep better too.
• Preschooler. Two hours of recommended time split in planned
physical activity and unstructured free play.
• School age. One hour or more in time periods of at least 15 minutes.
If a child is involved in a sports team or other activity such as dance
class, then several of the exercise days may be accounted for.
Mowing the lawn, walking the dog and other activities can fill out
the rest of the activity needed.
Air Force Fitness Centers, located worldwide, have the equipment and classes you want or need. Eligible patrons include Air Force active duty, Air National Guard, Reserve members and their families, retirees and DoD ID card holders. Guests may participate in most programs when accompanied by an eligible member.
There are even programs for people who want to go “all in.” The Air Force Sports program continues on to training camps and even higher competition at regional, national and international sporting events where selected participants represent the Air Force. World-Class athletes can be chosen to compete on Olympic teams.