Fitness for Life
This class was interesting to me because, while I had paid personal trainers in the past, I had never taken any courses that taught me anything about exercise physiology. Learning how to design my own workout plan and learning the requirements needed to make specific, measurable progress was a valuable experience that has already made an impact on my physical health.
For example, I never knew that oxygen efficiency is improved mostly in the muscles, not the lungs. Understanding this opened my eyes to why trainers encourage cross-training. Understanding this has helped me make more effort to incorporate biking, stairs, and other cardio choices into my workouts.
Because most of my fitness goals have surrounded the idea of losing weight, it has sometimes been discouraging to keep up with a fitness routine which results are slow to come. Tracking different kinds of progress and setting different kinds of measurable goals was a useful experience. During the semester, I haven’t really lost any weight. But, I’ve maintained my weight through the holiday season and, even better, I’ve made significant progress in both my cardio fitness and the amount of weight I can lift. I’ve also established a more regular exercise routine and learned to modify that routine to fit within my lifestyle so that my everyday “emergencies” don’t derail my progress.
The stress unit was particularly eye-opening. I have not thought of myself as a stressed-out person but after reading the chapter on stress I realized I actually do get very tense and stressed during certain times of day. I’ve begun practicing some of the stress-relief exercises to help me not be so irritable in the afternoons when I’m working with my kids on their after-school activities. Leaving the room for a few minutes of focused breathing has helped me settle myself and stop my frustration rising before I can get a tension headache.
Throughout this course, I’ve had several realizations about my lifestyle and health and made many small changes for the better. I thought the course would dwell much more on nutrition and things I already knew a fair bit about. I was pleasantly surprised to learn how to become my own personal trainer.
Tracking my workouts was also a key element in pinpointing an underlying health problem I didn’t even realize I had. When I couldn’t make any cardio progress, I went for a physical and discovered I was very anemic. It might have taken me much longer to uncover this issue if I hadn’t been paying such close attention to my heart rate and recovery for this class.
I’ve also realized that certain days of the week just never work out for exercise, in spite of my best intentions. Rather than beating myself up about not being able to cram in one more thing on these days, I’ve changed my workout plan to suit my lifestyle and set myself up for success.
Finally, I got a dog. It doesn’t sound at first like a pet has anything to do with health, but he’s already helped me make several positive changes:
—I can no longer sit at my desk for hours at a time because he needs breaks.
—I have to walk him every day, on top of my planned workouts.
—He’s good company and stress relief, as well as a great excuse to get in a few more steps.
I enjoyed the course but think it would be even more valuable if there were an in-person element, even if it were optional. I’m aware there is a campus gym facility that students can use. But, I think I’m like a lot of students in that I won’t step in there without a reason. If there were “open gym” days where we could come to ask questions about certain exercises or stretches, I think that could be a valuable resource. Also some of the fitness tests in the textbook could be helpful if we had the option of coming in. For example, SLCC probably owns a reliable body fat measuring device. Being able to track progress with a professional level tool would have made that part of the course more interesting and motivating.