Time to get healthy

Thousands of Iowans resolved to get fit and healthy in 2013. To assist those resolutions, the Iowa Department of Public Health is starting the Live Healthy Iowa Challenge on Jan. 28.

The challenge lasts 10 weeks and participants who register online at livehealthyiowa.org can track their fitness. Hamilton County Public Health administrator Shelby Kroona said the challenge is a great tool because it allows participants to log their progress.

“If you have such a tracking tool, you tend to be more accountable and stick with your health and fitness goals,” Kroona said.

Dennis Haney, community health consultant in the bureau of nutrition and health promotion at the IDPH, said adults should get at least two hours and 30 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity that requires moderate effort or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. Additionally, Haney said adults need to do aerobic activity in periods as short as ten minutes for health benefits.

However, it’s also important to make sure that you are healthy enough to exercise before starting a program. Recreation and public grounds director and triathlon participant Kent Harfst recommended seeing a doctor before beginning an exercise regiment.

Harfst said it is often beneficial to ease into a regular workout. He said starting too fast and hard can break the resolve of someone beginning a regiment.

“Good intentions aside, if you start out too hard you’ll get sore and frustrated. Set realistic goals,” Harfst said.

Picking an enjoyable activity is a way that Harfst said helps him continue to exercise. He enjoys swimming over jogging for a workout activity and said people looking to start being and remain active should find an activity that doesn’t bore them. He also recommends cardio work and light weight resistance training for people starting to exercise more, and said the staff at Fuller Hall can show interested persons how to use the exercise machines they have.

In addition to exercise, eating well is also an important aspect of general health. Kroona said eating more fruits and vegetables, using smaller dinner plates and putting half of a meal at a restauant in a to-go box before the meal begins can help people eat better with smaller portions. She suggested dividing a dinner plate into fourths, with a segment for meats, fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates.

However, Kroona said diets can hard to consistently keep, but overcoming guilt about breaking a diet can help a person stay on it.

“If you have a bad day and eat too much, try to get back on track the next day,” Kroona said.

The IDPH also recommends having an exercise partner to help stick with your activity goals.