By Mark Misner, Tampa based Certified Personal Fitness Trainer

I hope you are staying focused on your 2012 health and fitness goals! The calendar says it's already February, but it still feels like the holidays here in Tampa Personal Training paradise. If you are currently on track after the college football bowl games, NFL playoffs, Gasparilla festivities, Super Bowl XLVI and Valentine's Day, keep up the good work!
If you need a bit of extra incentive to get your exercise program rolling, this on-going Harvard Alumni Health Study may do the trick. The study has followed about 33,000 male undergraduates who received routine medi- cal examinations before entering Harvard between 1916 and 1950. Professor Ralp Paffenburger, Jr., who founded the study, is credited with a simple and brilliant synopsis, "Everything that gets worse as you get older gets better when you exercise!"
Did you know that exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, falls, fractures, and type 2 diabetes, along with breast, colon and other cancers? In addition, exercise lowers blood pressure, improves your lipid profile, helps process glucose and insulin, and improves cognitive func- tion. It helps with depression and functional health – being able to do the things you used to do as you get older.
According to I-Min Lee, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medial School, a recent study in Taiwan found that compared to inactivity, moderate activity at the level of a half-hour walk five days a week – increased men's life expectancy more than four years and women's life expectancy more than three and a half years. As Dr. Lee states, "Imagine a drug that could help you live this much longer. You would happily pay for it."
So how much exercise is needed? I suggest you develop a comprehensive program that is directed to achieve your personal health and fitness goals. Each and every program should include a balance in three areas; cardiovascular exercise, strength training and flexibility/stretching work. Each of these three areas is important to your long-term health.
Let's begin with the most challenging modality; strength training. I would strongly encourage you to seek some experienced guidance to develop your strength training program. Consider utilizing an experienced, certified personal fitness trainer. I generally encourage 2-3 safely designed, challenging strength training sessions each week. For most folks, a program of eight to twenty exercises that are geared to cover all of your major muscle groups would be very effective.
Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise should also be featured in your weekly exercise commitment. In 2008, the government released the following comprehensive recommendations on aerobic activity for health; 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensive activity (such as brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (such as jogging or swimming laps.) Similar to strength training, depending on the individual, there is a wide range of appropriate activity levels based on goals, health history, previous exercise experience, current health and exercise commitment. There are different exercises and levels of intensity that can be matched to different individuals' needs. In other words, what works for your neighbor, may not be best for you.
Lastly, try to develop a short, concise stretching routing that you can complete after each exercise session; both strength training and aerobic workouts. Consider taking a stretch class or a yoga class to learn a few stretches that will serve your needs. I believe it is a mistake if your stretching begins to take precedent over your Tampa Peronal Training strength and/or aerobic exercise – balance is necessary.
As I often detail here in the South Tampa Community News, there really are no shortage of amazing benefits from your exercise commitment and no shortcuts either. Additional articles are available at www. Have a healthy day!

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