By Katie Demeria
Deborah Inaba, an exercise physiologist with Shenandoah Memorial Hospital, wants to write this in the sky so everyone can see: the benefits of exercise are endless.
Inaba is intimately familiar with the ways in which exercise, even done lightly, can help the human body. Those looking into starting a new fitness routine, though, should make sure they are doing so safely.
According to Colleen Snyder of Shenandoah Valley Runners, running is becoming increasingly more popular as a free, easy way to stay healthy. The running group will sometimes see as many as 300 participants, both running and walking, at their events.
Snyder was able to get involved with the exercise in a slow, careful way 16 years ago. According to Inaba, taking it slow is the best way to do it.
"It's like building the foundation to a building," she said. "You have to respect where you are on the journey. Don't try to overdo -- instead of going 100 percent, go about 80 or 85 percent, to see how you feel."
Inaba said a good hypothetical individual to consider in this area is someone who is 58 years old, has arthritis, and is probably between 20 and 30 pounds overweight.
"How are they going to build up a daily exercise routine they can tolerate, and commit to?" she asked.
There are two important things to do before starting to walk or run: get good, comfortable walking shoes, and tell your doctor.
"Start by walking to the end of your long driveway," Inaba said. "Then the next day, walk to the end of your driveway again. Make sure you drink a lot of water, do a little stretching, and then the day after that, try doing it twice."
Inaba said it is now more important than ever to become proactive in getting regular exercise. The current culture, she said, requires individuals to be seated for long periods of time.
"As we sit for a long time, we kind of freeze in place, everything coagulates, and things become inflamed," she said.
Raising the heart rate, she said, moves oxygenated blood around and keeps muscles and joints lubricated.
Resistance training, like running, is especially useful because it strengthens bone density.
Many people over the age of 40 are suffering from degenerative joint diseases because they are not doing sufficient resistance training. Runners, however, are an exception she said because they are maintaining bone density and are training to bear their body weight.
Simply walking or running also releases endorphins in the brain, helping people deal with stress and feel better.
"It's very simple, and that's just it. People think it's a complicated process, but it's just simply putting one foot in front of the other," she said.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org