Whitesburg KY

How to become fit before this year’s Heritage Festival

More and more in our culture we are relying on simple cures for our problems. In the healthcare field it is becoming more and more of a rarity that someone will come into the doctor’s office and say, “You know Doc, I don’t really want that pill for my diabetes. I’d rather control it with diet and exercise.” We are not taking any responsibility for our health anymore.

Sure, there are pills to help you control diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, but you yourself should decide to take responsibility for your health. By being active, you can help control you blood sugar in diabetes, lower your blood pressure, and improve your cholesterol. Many times you can reduce the number of medications you take, or at the very least reduce the dosages you are taking. If this is not enough incentive for you, think of the money you will save. It is a lot cheaper to go outside and walk for 30 minutes than it is to pay for your month’s supply medications.

So you may be asking yourself what is the point of this article. My main goal is to help you increase your activity by giving you a weekly walking or running plan that you can follow until you are able to complete a 5K (3.1 mile) walk/run. You may or may not know it, but the Mountain Heritage Festival in Whitesburg has a 5K run/walk. This is a great opportunity to use this as a goal to increase your physical activity and your health.

This week I will lay out the agenda for the first week, then in each subsequent week up until the week of the race I will continue to give weekly agendas. Each week there will be a gradual increase in the amount of exercise you will do. Do not worry, you will be surprised at how well your body can adapt to the increased activity.

I realize not everyone reading this article is at the same level training and ability. For that reason, there will be three programs. One will be for those who have not performed much physical activity in quite some time or are not accustomed to running. The second will be for those who routinely walk and want to increase their endurance to finish walking the 3.1 miles. The third plan will be for those who again walk or run routinely and want to run the entire race.

I also realize not everyone has access to walking trails, gyms, or treadmills. That is perfectly OK. I know many of you live in hollows or on farms away from town and you do not have access to designated walking trails. However, I am sure you have a suitable place to go out and simply go for a walk; all you need is a road and a watch.

There is nothing I want more than to see an active eastern Kentucky. If you will follow one of the plans that are going to be laid out for you in the coming weeks and complete the 5K walk/run you will be well on your way to leading an active, more healthy lifestyle. I encourage you to email or call me with any questions you have or if you simply need motivation, please do not hesitate.

Before we get started I need you to answer some questions regarding your health. First of all, if you are over 69 years of age, please visit your local doctor before you begin. Second, please answer the following questions:

Par-Q activity questionnaire

1. Has your doctor ever stated you have a heart condition and should only do exercise recommended by your doctor? Y or N

2. Do you feel pain in your chest with physical activity? Y or N

3. In the past month have you had pain in your chest when you try to do physical activity? Y or N

4. Do you lose your balance because of dizziness or do you ever lose consciousness? Y or N

5. Do you have a bone or joint problem (for example back, knee, or hip) that could be made worse by a change in your physical activity? Y or N

6. Is your doctor currently prescribing (for example water pills) for your high blood pressure or heart problems? Y or N

7. Do you know of any other reason why you should not do physical activity? Y or N

If you answered yes to any of these questions please see your doctor before beginning this or any other exercise program.

Week 1 agenda:

Low activity plan:

If you can, you should do this everyday, but at the very least perform this 5 days out of the week. This week, you should:

Walk 8 minutes in the morning, walk 6-8 minutes in the evening.

Eventually, you will be able to walk 45 minutes at one time, and you WILL be able to finish the race. All you have to do is simply follow these guidelines week to week. If you can’t perform this, please do not get discouraged, just do what you can, and gradually increase your activity. Your body will adapt and you will improve your health.

Moderate walking plan:

Again, try and do this everyday, but at least 5 days this week.

Perform a slow walk/warmup for 5 minutes then increase your pace for 10 minutes and end with a slow walk for another 5 minutes for a total of 20 minutes.

Running plan:

This plan is for those who do not routinely run, but want to start and want to run most if not all of the 5K. Do not do this plan everyday this week, especially if you are just beginning an exercise program. Do it 3-4 times over the next week.

The first few weeks you will alternate running and walking, but at the end you will be running only. This week you should:

Walk for 3 minutes then run for 3 minutes. Do this three times, for a total of 18 minutes.

Well that’s it for this week. Please check back here next week for week two’s plans. I hope you find this helpful, and I encourage you to go ahead and sign-up for the 5K as you will be more likely to do it if you have committed to it. For signing up or for more information on the race, please contact Rex Frohnapfel at 606-632-0820 or Margaret Fisher at 606-633- 4100.

One last tip: You will find it helpful if you follow these training plans with a buddy. Working in groups makes it more likely you will be able to stick with your training, so encourage your significant other, friend, relative, etc. to get out there and do it with you.

Until next week, please feel free to call me with any questions at 1-859-533-0309. My email address is phcaud01@gwise.louisville.edu

Paul H Caudill of Letcher County is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Louisville.

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