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JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. --Whether its size, shape, proportions, or health and fitness level, we all have things that are important to us and things we would like to work on. Keeping in shape and eating healthy is beneficial for not only the body, but the mind, too. Getting started towards a healthier way of living is not all that difficult, either. Members of Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling's Health and Wellness Center (HAWC) say it just takes a positive attitude and the ability to set goals for yourself.

Attitude is a key factor to staying motivated and taking care of the body, according to Brett Loehmann, fitness program manager at the HAWC. Quite often people come to Loehmann with questions on how often they should work out, what they should be doing, or just what type of machines they should be using at the gym.

He said it really comes down to a matter of preference and what someone is looking to do. That could mean improving their upper-body, lower-body, or mid-section. There's no right or wrong approach. It also doesn't even matter whether its free weights or machines. Though, he said free weights can be a little harder on the joints. He said it's only important to never get discouraged.

"When it comes to exercising, three days a week is general maintenance for the body. That's considered an overall standard for the non-athlete," Loehmann said. "At 60 minutes per workout, that's a good progression towards reducing cholesterol, blood pressure, body fat and stress. A routine like that also includes proper rest for muscle recovery and will help with bone growth."

Loehmann said individual sleep would also get better with a routine like this, in addition to helping with disease reduction. When thinking about exercise, he said it's important to remember that anyone can work out. Machines at the gym don't discriminate against anyone's age, gender, or size. Though, there are some things to remember before working up a sweat.

"Being safe is very important. Intensity, time or days per week are variable to be mindful of in order to prevent injury. Remember that a rate of progression and overall enjoyment are the perfect balance for a positive, healthy outcome," Loehmann said. "A safe order would be to start with an active warm-up before moving on to some cardiovascular exercises. After that, some strength and conditioning followed by a cool-down and some static stretching. That's really the best way to get things rolling."

Loehmann said personal trainers certainly help with the motivation factor, but that it really comes down to someone setting short-term and long-term goals for themselves, as well as committing to a routine they're comfortable with, and sticking with it. He said numerous things can also be done outside a gym to help stay in shape. This includes bicycling, playing basketball, walking your dog at a local park, or simply running up and down hills or a set of bleachers.

As someone who's been practicing martial arts for the past 15 years, Loehmann also recognizes the value of a recreational hobby, program, or some type of sport for life.

"It comes back to that old adage of mind, body and spirit. Working out doesn't start and stop at the local gym," Loehmann said. "There are so many examples of this. Martial arts has helped me with stress, coordination and giving me a balance in life. It's been fantastic in so many ways."

On the topic of dieting, registered dietician Rebecca Cendan said it's a matter of getting the right vitamins, minerals, proteins, fat and carbohydrates into one's diet. A big part of her job includes setting up an individual nutritional plan for someone and, just like with exercising, helping that person with individual goals.

"What I look to do is to help someone set easy, simple nutritional goals for themselves," Cendan said. "It's important to know there are some better food choices than others. I'll help devise a food plan to meet my client's nutritional needs and to prevent disease."

Cendan said having a balanced diet will get someone everything he or she needs from the foods they eat. To help drive this point home even further, she said the HAWC offers a "Be Well" class every Tuesday from 8 - 11 a.m. for everyone on base. It includes components on behavior, exercise and nutrition.

"Nutritional plans are so individualized. There are many different angles you can go," Cendan said. "I get a lot of questions about weight loss and performance. It really comes down to what people want for themselves and incorporating a plan that suits that person best."

For more information on exercising and dieting, or upcoming classes, activities, or programs at the HAWC, call 202-404-1025.