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As the weather begins to get warmer people start to think about what their bodies will look like in summer gear. People begin to look at dieting and exercise as ways to get into shape before late spring and early summer.
Exercise is a wonderful way to improve body image and I encourage it with my patients but I always caution them to take on an exercise routine that is appropriate for their level of health. The USDA has created guidelines for the prevention of chronic disease as well as guidelines to lose and maintain appropriate weight. I use these guidelines to set goals for my patients. If my patients do not currently exercise or have series illnesses I start them on exercise plans that are lower than the USDA guidelines, and over the course of weeks or months we step up the program until it is appropriate with the guidelines. In this way I support my patients' desire to begin exercise and we create a plan that can be successful. This strategy has been very successful and prevented unnecessary injuries or damage to people by pushing their exercise plan too fast.
Here are the official USDA guideline lines for exercise:
• Engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight.
o To reduce the risk of chronic disease in adulthood: Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work or home on most days of the week.
o For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or longer duration.
o To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood: Engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake requirements.
o To sustain weight loss in adulthood: Participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while not exceeding caloric intake requirements. Some people may need to consult with a health care provider before participating in this level of activity.