Heroic Health: An Acronym for Fitness: Michelle LeComte

You have decided to change your lifestyle and take some action on behalf of your own health.
Your first plan is to get moving. Instead of parking in the closest parking place to the grocery store, you park as far away as you can and walk. Maybe you decide to forego the Netflix bingewatching and get to bed an hour earlier so you can get up and run/walk for ½ hour before you start your day. Or you decide to check out one of the local Yoga classes on Mondays and Wednesdays.
At any rate, you have made the decision to begin increasing the amount of time you spend moving your body! And you want to do this in an organized fashion, so you can track your progress and build new habits.
Here is a simple tool I think you may find useful. It’s called the FITT Formula, and each letter stands for a part of your exercise program that is important when you are developing a plan. It helps to name and measure what it is you want to do, (which is also good for goal setting) as well as make your programming more efficient. The acronym stands for the following:
F- Frequency
I- Intensity
Simple. But effective. Let’s look at each letter and see how you may use this when planning your new activities. This formula can apply to weight training and/or cardiovascular training.
Frequency: This is how often you will exercise. Every other day? Three times a week? The CSM (American College of Sports Medicine) recommendation is 5 days a week for health. But in the beginning, you may want to take it slow. Build up to five days a week, and you will develop a base that you can work from. Also, since consistency is key to your success, knowing what your frequency is will help keep you on track.
Intensity: This is how hard you are working. If you are walking, after you’ve built a base to work from, you may want to increase the intensity and speed it up. The recommendation from ACSM is moderate intensity. How can you tell if you are working too hard? Try the “Talk Test”. If you’re exercising with a friend, and you are so out of breath you can’t converse, most likely you are working too hard. Slow down. If you are on your own, you can use a Perceived Exertion (PE) test.
Also simple, just rate how hard you are working on a scale from 1 to 10. Moderate would be about a 5. Also, how intense you work out may have something to do with how frequent you exercise, so keep it moderate. Remember, this is fitness for life and you want to make this a lifelong habit. You have time to build, and you’ve begun, and that’s the most important thing.
Time: How long will you exercise? ACSM recommends 30 minutes or more. But if at first you only go 20 minutes, that’s okay! As long as you build a base. Eventually, as you become more conditioned, you will be able to expand the time you spend with exercise. And again, the other aspects of this formula may have to do with how long you go.
Type: This is the kind of exercise you will do. Is it hiking, a treadmill, an elliptical or running outdoors? Maybe swimming, an aerobics style class, or a spin class. Or how ‘bout bike riding in the summer? There are so many activities available to get your body moving, so find something that you will like! The best exercise is the one that you enjoy. Some classes are really fun and offer a social aspect while you are working out. So find the thing that is going to offer you the most satisfaction. Employ the FITT Principle , be your own Hero and get your health on track!
Michelle Le Comte is a Certified Personal Trainer. She is certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and has been since 1994. She is also certified by National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) as a Corrective Exercise Specialist. Her experience includes owning her own Jazzercise Franchise and more recently, enjoying the privilege of working with many clients and students who enlisted her help as a Personal Trainer to improve their fitness and health.