Exercise key to healthy weight loss, experts advise

Published on Thu, Nov 1, 2007 by Jack Kintner

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Exercise key to healthy weight loss, experts advise

By Jack Kintner

When it comes to losing weight, some choices are not obvious.

Food choices such as low-fat and smaller portions are basic, but Blaine physical education teacher Dan Persse wants individuals to start parking the car farther away, using the stairs instead of the elevator and walking when possible.

“Current research suggests some simple things to making an effective changes in your eating and exercise habits,” he said.

Persse, along with The Northern Light, presented the documentary Supersize Me on October 21 as part of a campaign to help make Blaine parents and school kids more aware of the dangers of being overweight.

“More than 60 percent of adult Americans are either overweight or obese, and close to 30 percent of children are in this category. An overweight child has a 70 percent chance of being overweight in adulthood, but when both parents are of normal weight a child has only a 7 percent chance of being overweight,” Persse said.

“There is a substantial link between TV watching and being overweight,” Persse said. He cited federal statistics that indicated that for every hour of TV watched each week the chance of becoming overweight increases by 7 percent.

“The average child will view more than 40,000 media messages a year related to food, sex, violence, and other negative behaviors,” Persse continued, adding that along with a decrease in physical education time this has led to what he called a health-literacy disadvantage.

“We don’t know how to stay healthy, something that started in the mid-70s which coincides with the rapid increase in obesity in the U.S.,” Persse said, “when we all began eating more and doing less.”

The amount of exercise needed to maintain a minimum fitness level is not extreme, according to Dr. Bill Kintner, a family practice physician in Port Angeles, Washington and an active hiker and skier. “The minimum required is three times a week strenuous enough to raise your pulse 25 percent for 20 minutes. A brisk walk will do that, and for many people it means just breaking a sweat.”

Kintner emphasized that this is a minimum, and that benefits build up as times and activities are increased, but it makes the excuses he hears from his overweight patients ring a little hollow. “Just about everyone can do something, and walking is a good one, a very complete full body exercise since that’s what we’re designed to do,” he said.

Beyond that level, according to a statement issued jointly by the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine, adults can stay in good shape with a moderately intense 30 minute workout five days a week, or a vigorously intense 20 minute workout three days a week. One must supplement this with eight to 10 strength training exercises of eight to 12 repetitions each twice a week.

Locally there are several places where one can schedule workouts under the supervision of qualified trainers, and one should always work with a physician if there’s any question about the suitability of exercise.

The senior center offers a complete range of exercise equipment for free to qualified members.

Persse said that he dreams of the day when walking trails link all the Blaine parks, “including the skate board park. There we have young kids already exercising and yet we don’t support it as we should.”

For more information about exercise, Persse said that a good place to begin is at the American College of Sports Medicine website at www.acsm.org.