Dr. Dugan explains how women should exercise.
I think that we have the most data on aerobic exercise or cardiovascular exercise so when you look at the government’s annual recommendations, their latest ones they talk about your baseline activity and then your health-enhancing activity.
So we’ve seen that cardiovascular exercise, which is when you get your heart rate up and you feel a little bit winded but you can still carry on a conversation. Cardiovascular exercise at that moderate rate for 30 minutes, most days of the week, has been shown in many studies to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, etc. So we definitely say cardiovascular exercise must be on your weekly schedule.
Now you could go dancing and get your heart rate up, you know, and have fun rather than the drudgery of going to the gym, if that’s not your thing. Strength training is the second category, or resistance training. Again, if you look at the government recommendations or the American College of Sports Medicine, where I happen to be a member and part of the Women’s Health Committee, strength training also has its own benefits for your heart and for diabetes and other medical conditions, but probably we don’t have as many studies as we do for cardiovascular.
I also know that strength training is really important to be able to do things like empty the dishwasher, get out of bed. So strength training is an important part, as well. And then other alternatives like yoga, Pilates. Well, how do we decide which ones to do and how to do them? So again, they have all the benefits when it comes to flexibility, when it comes to relaxation, meditation.
So my big joke with patients is if you did everything I tell you to do, you’d have to quit your job so you could exercise the right way all week, but I think you should pick things that you enjoy, maybe one from each category. So if you could get to your cardiovascular exercise four times a week, do your strength training maybe three times a week, and then on some days, do two different things. So maybe add a yoga class once a week or go to Pilates, and Pilates could count for your resistance training or strength training that week. So kind of mix it up; it also makes you stick with it longer, and you really get the benefits.
About Dr. Dugan, M.D.:
Dr. Sheila A. Dugan, M.D., is Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Rush Medical College, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois. She is a faculty member of the Department of Neurosurgery and the Department of Preventive Medicine. She is co-medical director of the Rush Program for Abdominal and Pelvic Health.
Dr. Dugan is multi board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, electrodiagnostic medicine and pain medicine. She is highly skilled in neurological and sports-related rehabilitation. Prior to medical school, she received her physical therapy degree from Northwestern University in 1986. She's currently pursuing development of a program focused on women's musculoskeletal care, including both their medical and rehabilitation needs.