Make a cheque your ass can cash

In these times of economic uncertainty, everyone is confused with what they should invest in. In my opinion, the best investment you can make is in yourself. I am a Kinesiology student and not an economics major, so my view may be slightly biased, but there are no business professionals who can guarantee you better quality of living or improved physical fitness. Since this world is always changing, business professionals can only forecast and predict what will be the best long-term investments; they cannot guarantee anything long-term in this day and age. But I will guarantee that if you put the time in to taking care of yourself you will improve your overall health and wellness. Over the course of the year I will be giving out different tips on how to be healthier, debunk common fitness myths, offer ideas on how to eat healthier, and present other topics that will hopefully help improve your quality of life.

The first obstacle to tackle is to understand how much exercise is enough. Everyone understands that we should exercise to stay fit, but what exactly does that mean? That seems like a rhetorical question, but in fact it is very different for each person. Since everyone wants a concrete universal “answer,” the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) created guidelines in 1995. They revised these guidelines in 2007 in order to address the increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, just to name the most common issues.

TheACSM guidelines aim to give a rough idea of what fitness requirements you should be meeting in an average week. Adults below the age of 65 should perform 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercises five times per week. Or to follow the recommendation but include strength training, you should do 20 minutes of cardio exercise three days a week while incorporating a strength-training regime of eight to 10 different exercises of eight to 12 repetitions.

Most people have heard of these requirements, but it sounds more like a math test than an exercise routine. What most people do not know is that these are the requirements for already healthy adults. In order to burn fat and lose weight, to bulk up and get beach-ready (since this summer never really came, get ready for the next year!) you need to do more than the required minimum to meet your goals.

The most common excuse I hear as a barrier to being active is either “I don’t have enough time” or “I work hard enough at my job.” With regard to working hard at your job, this is a valid excuse because we all work hard and come home feeling tired. But to explain it in ACSM guideline terms, understand that you need to get your heart rate up and that you should break a sweat to get the positive effects of exercise. With that being said, how often do you break a sweat at work? If you do not break a sweat, then that means that you are not exercising. Everything in our lives requires effort but to improve your health you need to devote time to breaking a sweat and pursuing fitness goals.

In the 2007 revision, the ACSM had to clarify that throughout a day you cannot add up small activities to meet your required minimum. You must now have a minimum of a 10-minute block of exercise that gets your heart rate up and you break a sweat. As much as we would like to believe that everything that adds up is equal, this is not the case with exercise. Your body is a machine that has to get going before it can start burning fat and improving your overall health.

But as they say, time is money and 20 minutes is not that much time in a day. So when you are thinking about what to invest in this upcoming year, invest in something that will be around as long as you live and that only improves as you keep investing — your health.