Hitting the gym

HOUGHTON – Exercise – it’s one of those things that everyone should do but few really want to. But to stay healthy, it’s a necessity.

According to Emily Kunnen, personal trainer and group exercise instructor at the Portage Health Fitness Center in Houghton, there are steps people can take to get them moving.

“To get in shape, fitting in regular exercise is difficult at times,” Kunnen said. “There are so many ways to get active, so many different varieties now.”

But Kunnen suggests that people follow the recommendations from the CDC that are out there.

“It’s recommend that people get 150 minutes of moderate intensive exercise per week. That would consist of walking, jogging, anything that pumps the heart.”

But it’s now recommended that you could either do that or change that into 75 minutes of more vigorous exercise.

“That would be something more intensive – like running. Just increasing the intensity. When you’re doing moderate exercise you’re breaking a sweat and your heartrate is kind of elevated, but when you’re vigorously exercising you’re really sweating, it’s hard to carry on a conversation. It’s showing a lot more health benefits. It’s going to give you similar results so you might as well spend less time.”

However, Kunnen recommends building up to that point, not just jumping into it.

“Start with maybe 15 minutes a day instead of 30 and work your way up. Change your walking into jogging and then eventually running. You never really want to start out too heavy. It will help you avoid injuries and burnout, as well,” Kunnen said.

It’s also recommended to incorporate strength training into a workout routine at least two days a week.

“You can do bodyweight stuff, you can do weight training, yoga, yard work, stuff like that.”

Kunnen also recommends starting light on that.

“Maybe one set of eight to 12 push-ups,” she said. “And then maybe work up into two sets of that and then three sets of that. That would be a great and easy way to get some strength training into your routine, as well.”

There is a rest period that is advised between sets of strength training exercises, but those can vary depending on the results someone is looking for.

“If you’re building strength and you’re pushing a lot of weight, we recommend about a minute rest, but that’s not crucial. If you’re doing things for more endurance and getting in shape in general, you do want some heart rate, so rest as little as you need to recover. It’s up to the person. If you feel you’re really tired after 8 push-ups and you need 30 seconds, take it. Your recovery time is all a matter of how you’re feeling.”

Sometimes it can be easy to start exercising and strength training, but difficult to find the motivation to keep going long-term, but Kunnen said that surrounding yourself with like-minded people can be a good place to start.

“Working it into your family’s life, working it into your schedule and making sure you keep that appointment with yourself is crucial. You’re just as important as anything else, so setting aside a time every day and surrounding yourself with friends that are like-minded will help you stay motivated,” Kunnen said.

Another key to motivation is to try new ways of exercising.

“You don’t want to do the same routine for a year, then you won’t want to do it anymore. It’s not going to give you any results. Making sure you’re changing up your routine, keeping it fresh, keeping it fun and something you enjoy, those are the ways that people can stay motivated, also,” Kunnen said. “Seeing the results will also help with motivation.”

People who are looking to lose weight and also build muscle can do both at the same time, but Kunnen said diet will play a huge role in that.

“When you’re trying to lose weight, you have to keep up muscle mass to keep that metabolic rate high,” Kunnen said. “When you’re losing the fat weight you have to increase the muscle weight. If you’re not eating enough protein your body can’t gain the muscle because it doesn’t have the right sources of nutrition to gain muscle. Also, if you’re restricting your diet too much, then you won’t have the right amount of fuel to keep the muscle on so your body’s going to find fuel in your muscles and eat your muscles and your fat at the same time.”

Kunnen said eating a gram of protein per pound of body weight per day is crucial for building muscle. But supplements can also be used.

“It’s really hard to eat that much protein in a day, but that’s crucial for building mass and keeping muscle on when you’re trying to take your diet down. Your diet has to shift to be a little less carbohydrate and a little more protein,” she said. “You also need essential fatty acids, like omega-3 fatty acids. That will help you keep burning fat. Restricting your diet too much will prohibit you from losing fat. You need about 40 percent complex carbs, 40 percent protein and about 20 percent good fat.”