exercising couple
Ohio Life | Live Well Ohio

Live Well Ohio: May 2018

Here’s how to get moving this summer, no matter your level of fitness. Plus: Physicians share advice for protecting yourself from the sun’s rays.

Get Moving
Fitness experts create realistic plans you can work into your day and offer advice for staying motivated. 

Warmer weather opens up the doors for exercise. It’s time to get out, get moving and gain the health benefits exercise brings to the body, mind and spirit. May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and it’s as good a time as any to get off the couch and into an exercise routine. 

Getting Started

If you’d rather sink into a recliner than hang out at the gym, you aren’t alone. According to the latest report from the State of Obesity — a project of the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — 80 percent of American adults do not meet the government’s national physical activity recommendations for aerobic activity and muscle strengthening. But there’s good news for those who want to break free from their sedentary habits.

“As little as 10 minutes of walking every day will improve your health, lower your blood pressure, keep bones strong and healthy, reduce stress, improve your mood, improve your quality of sleep, improve brain function and help you burn calories,” says Cleveland Clinic exercise physiologist Christopher Travers.

Even better, you don’t need anything other than motivation to get started. Dr. Frederick Soliman, a team physician for Ohio University and a sports medicine physician at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital in Athens, also suggests consulting with your doctor before you begin to make sure exercise is safe for you.

“Come up with a plan rather than just jumping right into it,” he says. “Think about where you’ll exercise, what type of exercise you want to do and start slow.”

What’s the easiest way to get going? Start walking.

“Set a time-limit goal,” says Dr. Matt Roth, medical director of ProMedica Wellness in Toledo. “Start walking five to 10 minutes per day, then either add another walking spurt at another time, or increase the duration. Take your time — don’t rush it.”

How To Stick With It
• Set a Timer. Set reminders on your smartphone. Roth suggests plugging a walking break into your daily schedule. 
• Create a Routine. “Make exercise a habit,” Soliman says. “Work out at the same time every day.” 
• Treat Yourself. Give yourself permission to order the latte after meeting a goal. “Having a little reward will keep you going,” Soliman says. 

Cranking It Up a Notch

Now that you’ve started moving, add more time or intensity to your daily routine to gain even more benefit from exercise. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of cardio activity per week.

“Shoot for small goals,” Travers says. “Spend three weeks walking daily, working up to 12- to 15-minute walks, then build off of that base. I [recommend] adding strength training to your routine to maintain metabolism and prevent age-related muscle loss.”

He also suggests hiring a certified personal trainer, exercise specialist or exercise physiologist to help you create a plan. As for boosting cardio activity, Roth suggests interval training.

“If you’re walking two or three laps around the block, do a half-lap at a quicker pace and then continue with another interval,” he says. “The goal is to continue building cardiovascular capacity.” 

How To Stick With It
• Do What You Love. Walking not your thing? Soliman suggests trying yoga, tai chi or a Pilates class, bicycling or a workout video. 
• Embrace Technology. Invest in a fitness watch that counts steps, or tap into online tools that allow you to share goals, compete and celebrate successes. 
• Find a Buddy. Accountability will keep you motivated. “A spouse, friend or someone you know who will go to the gym or go walking with you can help you stick with a program,” Soliman says. 

Achieving That Goal 

Whether your objective is to run a 5K, participate in a charity bike-a-thon or master a new yoga pose, you need a plan with checkpoints to track your progress.

“Aim to increase your running by about 10 percent per week as you build up,” Roth says. “Otherwise, you’ll risk an overuse injury, which can result in discouraging time off from training.”

For biking, follow the same running rule of increasing mileage just 10 percent per week to avoid injury. Need motivation? Check your local running and cycling shops for group runs and rides.  

How To Stick With It
• Commit. Sign up and pay for the race. If your money is committed, you’re more likely to cross the finish line. 
• Set a backup goal. You want to run a 5K in 30 minutes, but what if you’re feeling off your game on race day? “If your goal is to beat a certain time, set a backup goal to finish the race,” Travers says. “Even if you’re feeling sluggish, you still met your goal — you did it.” 
• Get outside. Go hiking, paddleboarding, canoeing, rock climbing — don’t restrict the next level of exercise to one activity alone. “As you gain fitness, explore different ways to move your body and experience new hobbies,” Soliman says. “It’s about getting active — anything you do to promote movement will help you with your physical and mental fitness.”


Sun Damage 
Ohio physicians offer advice on protection against and detection of skin cancer. 

“It started like a pimple and didn’t go away.” Dr. David R. Lambert, a dermatologist at The James — The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, often hears this comment from patients who get the news that the flesh-colored bump on their skin is cancerous. “Another typical reaction is, ‘I’ve had this a long time and didn’t think it was anything,’ ” Lambert adds.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70. The most common form is basal cell carcinoma, which usually looks like a red patch or scar. Second is squamous cell carcinoma, which often presents itself as elevated growths with a central depression, which can crust or bleed. The most dangerous type of skin cancer, melanoma, usually shows up as a dark-brown or black spot that can mimic a mole, says Jill Hunt, an advanced oncology certified nurse practitioner at The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati.

Are you at risk for any type of skin cancer? That depends on UV exposure — and the effects of the sun can surface years, even decades, later in life. 

Always Use Sunscreen. Sunscreen is a must and should be reapplied every two hours. “It’s true that the higher SPF formulas are more protective,” Lambert says. “SPF 30 means 1 minute of unprotected sun for every 30 minutes in the sun with sunscreen on. If you use SPF 50, you get one minute of unprotected sun for every 50 minutes. For many people, this is a very minor difference, but it could be a worthwhile improvement for very sun-sensitive people and those who are in direct, intense sun.” 

Cover Up. The best protection from harmful rays is to avoid them — or at least, limit your exposure during the summer sun’s peak hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. When you have to go out during those times, Hunt advises sporting a wide-brimmed hat. “The scalp and ears are places we find melanoma because they’re areas people just don’t think about,” she says. When it comes to sun protection, not all garments have been designed to combat the sun’s rays. “I recommend clothing that is [labeled] sun-protective and rated similar to sunscreen products,” Lambert adds. 

Spot the Signs. Perform monthly self-screenings and visit a dermatologist annually to perform a screening of your entire body. “The back is one area where skin cancer is missed because we don’t notice it on hard-to-see areas of the body,” Hunt says.