Choosing an activity

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Choosing a specific activity for exercise requires some thought. It's best to do several different activities that use different muscles, and it can get boring doing the same thing day after day. Here are some points to keep in mind when choosing a physical activity, either for yourself or your child:

i Some people prefer a team sport, whereas others prefer a solitary sport.

i Some people like competition, and others just like to improve their own performance.

il Some people like to be very tired at the end of a workout, whereas others like to take it a little easier.

i Climate is a factor in the choice of physical activities. If you live in a climate that's warm year-round, you can pretty much do anything outdoors at any time. In contrast, winter weather may send you indoors and help determine what activities you can do. You may want to do one sport during the warm summer months and another when you have to be inside.

i Decide what you want to get out of the exercise: fitness, flexibility, or weight loss (or all three).

Table 9-1 shows you how each exercise can improve the body. Choose the one that accomplishes what you (or your child) need from physical activity.

Table 9-1 Match Your Activity to the Results You Want

If You Want to...

Then Consider...

Build up cardiovascular condition

Vigorous basketball, racquetball, squash,

cross-country skiing, handball

Strengthen your body

Weight lifting (low weight and high repetition),

gymnastics, mountain climbing, cross-country


Build up muscular endurance

Gymnastics, rowing, cross-country skiing,

vigorous basketball

Increase flexibility

Gymnastics, judo, karate, soccer, surfing

Control body fat Handball, racquetball, squash, cross-country skiing, vigorous basketball, singles tennis

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You and your child can choose any one or more of the activities in Table 9-1 that meets your goals. Unless you have an illness or have never exercised before, or your child has a complication of diabetes, feel free to do what you and your child enjoy.

If you're an adult patient, consider your current physical state when you choose your exercise. Here are some complications (which I describe in Chapter 5) and how they limit may your choices:

i Diabetic retinopathy should prevent you from doing exercises that increase your blood pressure. Anaerobic weight lifting is in that category. Bouncing exercises also aren't good for damaged eyes, and you should avoid underwater diving like scuba, which increases the pressure in your eyes.

1 Nephropathy (kidney damage) is made worse by uncontrolled high blood pressure, which can accompany any prolonged, high-intensity exercise, such as a triathlon or marathon. You can find out if such activities put you at risk by measuring your blood pressure several times during the exercise. Trying something once doesn't damage you more, particularly if you check to see if the exercise causes an increase in BP, which it may not.

1 Chest pain at rest certainly prevents you from doing any exercise because it gets worse with exertion and you run the risk of a heart attack. Get it cleared up with your doctor before you undertake any form of exercise, or you may be meeting with the undertaker next.

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