Staying Fit

by Othon Molina, Ph.d.c, LMT

First of all I want to make it clear that this information is not to diagnose nor prescribe, and it should not take the place of the advice of your doctor. This is intended to complement conventional medicine, not to replace it. Consult with your doctor before starting any kind of nutritional or physical program.

Many of us are working out regularly in some way or other, many of us are getting wiser to the facts and benefits. Many people are just getting started on some form of fitness routine. Let’s look at a few ways to stay fit. From our crazy triathletes, to wild mountain bikers to simple walking, it’s a great way to stay in shape. We are lucky to have the wonderful ocean, trails in the woods and mountains in Hawaii. Many of the trails are great, but watch out for soft sand and rocks if you are mountain biking. Since the pavement is also very extensive on this island, cycling on the roads is safer in some areas too. Cycling a great way to have fun, see new places and get in great shape. Roller blading is another great way to stay in shape with a cardiovascular workout and is low impact.

Let s not forget the famous sport of all on the islands; surfing, one of the most fun and upper body training program ever devised. This is one of the hardiest sports for the upper body! We need to find a balance program for the legs if we seek total fitness. Although technically surfing would not be considered an aerobic training program those scientists never surfed. Duration with intensity determines the level of fitness benefit you receive from it. No question, it’s a great workout. Surfing is natural, not using machines and very harmonious for mind and spirit.

That leads us into the other water sports in Hawaii, swimming is one of the best all around methods for staying in shape. But I’m talking about the swimming of a half hour to an hour or more. Swimming however unless done on a highly competitive level is a difficult way to build muscle. Its greatest benefits are cardio-vascular, muscle development within function and the most important to me is a lengthening and loosening (relaxing) of muscles. I love it, I believe it needs to be part of a regular total fitness program.

Let’s look at the benefits of every system. The systems you use depends on what you are trying to achieve with your body. Fitness (Specificity) is best achieved by systems of specific exercises producing a measured or intended result. Aerobic-(endurance), anaerobic (muscle strength) and flexibility (yoga, stretching, massage) in proper proportions are all necessary to stay fit as well as healthy.

Of course there are yet another varied means of obtaining that mean lean and beautiful body. Let s review Swimming is the best conditioning exercise and we can do it all year round. In addition to swimming, we also have canoe paddling (Hawaiian style), kayaking, surfing and wind surfing, all of which are primarily upper body exercises. These should be balanced with a true aerobic exercise and a lower body strengthening program, such as running or weight training.

There is no reason to quit working out at the gym because we have nice weather. It is necessary, however, to keep a balance with our strength and flexibility exercises. Unfortunately, we don t always have time to run up to the mountains or get to the beach for lunch so the gym is a good backup. Night-time workouts become almost mandatory since most of us work during the days and the weekends just don t give us enough time to stay in shape. Be careful not to be a weekend warrior, they try to do too much on the weekend.

Depending on the level of fitness you want to achieve and then maintain, the minimum is to work out four days per week, for at least an hour (hard and easy days is a good system). This is really just the minimum requirement. As you get fit, you have to increase the intensity or the duration to get fitter. Watch out, though, we could go to more and more and more!! Training can be addictive.

The law of reversibility comes quick. That means it takes us from five to ten weeks to get fit, but only one week without training to lose it. Aerobic conditioning goes first, metabolism second, then endurance and strength last. Remember, even the most athletic body needs some rest too (hard and easy days), so don t over-train. Listen to your body!! I don t believe in the old saying — No pain, No gain. I’ve treated many top athletes that wouldn’t let their bodies heal and tried to push through the pain. Also, for the prevention of injuries it’s best to start gently and build a good fitness base. This law; building a base is critical. That means you have to build ligaments and tendons along with the muscles. Ligaments and tendons take longer to build than muscle, because of lack of blood flow and flexibility. That s where the use long slow distance training was designed for runners to build that base. The problem is many continued it for competition and that wasn’t enough for running faster.

For us regular people that just want to run for staying in shape that is fine. Running is the all around best and fastest way to get in total shape (aerobic some strength and endurance) better of course when balanced with stretching and swimming. Running has after all been very important since man first got legs. It could save your life then and now just as well. Running exploded in the seventies and is still the all around exercise of choice for fitness. However for general fitness, good fast walking may be the best way to start.

We need long extensive yet gentle workouts to build a base. Progressively increasing in duration and intensity. Then you can start pumping iron to build and define, running marathons, or competing in world class triathlons. If you push too fast, the body breaks at its weakest link. Start building there, take your time. If you have bad knees or back, power walking can be just as beneficial, without the intense impact.

A possible schedule combining exercises with a varying degree of aerobic training. Remember that stretching is another half hour or more at least each day.

A simple exercise program could look something like this:

Beginning level fitness Average level fitness High level fitness
Sun rest-stretch or walk bike or walk-hike bike-walk, swim or play!
Mon 1 hr. gym-stretch 1-2 hrs. gym or swim 2 hrs. gym-stretch or swim
Tue 1/2 hr. walk or swim 1/2 hr. run-stretch 5-10 mile run-stretch-bike
Wed 1 hr. gym-stretch 1-2 hrs. gym or swim 1-2 hrs. gym-stretch or swim
Thu 1/2 hr. walk or swim 1/2 hr. run-stretch 5 mile run or 20 mile bike
Fri 1 hr. gym/bike 1 hr. gym or swim 2 hrs. gym-stretch or swim
Sat 1 hr. walk or swim 1-2 hrs. walk/ run 10 mile run or 30 mile bike


Note: Gym is defined as body building exercises or weight lifting. Gym could be replaced with other body strengthening exercises (surfing-kayaking-hiking-windsurfing-paddling if pushed to a certain level, they can really build up some strength. The only problem is we usually can’t do them as often as we would like.

Flexibility should be always part of the gym work out, at least another half hour daily with all that you do. I personally found that using the gym you can get in shape fast and could it be a combination aerobic-anaerobic-flexibility workout. Sounds contrary, but the way I did it was by warming up first on a running tread mill, stretching at least 10 min. before and 20 min. after. Then lifting weights using the pyramid down method. That is by starting at the heaviest weight I could lift at least 12 times. Then doing the maximum repetitions and lowering the weight by 10 pounds each time. No resting period at all! And I mean no rest, unless you can’t get your breath. Pushing and breathing deeply all the way, from one station to the next. No talking to the bra s, just having intense focus on lifting. Believe me, do an hour of that and you will not only build muscle you will be breathing so hard for so long, it will soon be evident that it is a cardiovascular conditioning benefit as well.

For high tech training you can monitor your pulse rate and keep it at 70 to 80% of your maximum heart rate. You get that buy subtracting your age from 220 and multiplying by 70 to 80% to find your ideal training heart rate. Don t let your pulse drop below that for at least 45 min. and it will give you the best results. (220-45- age) = 175 (max) x 75% = 131 training rate to target starting out. Some elite athletes train at 90% of their max.
All the training you do is best when you’re doing some form of cross training. Just remember all the work we do on the body must be balanced, in strength, aerobic, flexibility, endurance, or explosive use of the body. We must build it accordingly, from the needs of the working person or the high stress executive as well as top athletes, students or kids.

Many of our children are not fit, unless they are heavy into sports or surfing a lot. Other kids may be less athletic just don t have fit bodies. I’ve been a fitness buff for a long time and if it’s a fad as many people say, then all right! What a great fad it is. It can only get us healthier. I have found it inspires you in many other areas of your life, and that could lead to being happier as well.

This is just a simple idea for a general fitness program. There are hundreds of books out there for your information, just take care in all you do, listen to your body. If you push, gravity, weights or stress, it will all push back. Keep reading articles and books on training, for further information.


For any questions please call:
Othon Molina Ph.D. c LMT
(909) 730-5733

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