January 10, 2008

Recreation center can help meet fitness needs

by Christi Mathis


CARBONDALE, Ill. — Heart disease, obesity, diabetes and health issues galore are on the rise. Yet, more than 60 percent of American adults don't get the recommended amount of physical activity even though it's been proven to improve health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association recently developed updated physical activity recommendations and Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Student Recreation Center offers ample options so area residents can turn the tide in their lives.

Regular exercise helps prevent many prevalent diseases and also helps older adults continue to enjoy better "functional health," doing the things they want and need to as part of everyday living, according to Lynne Thompson-Cundiff, fitness coordinator at SIUC.

Physical activity guidelines released last year are the first updates on the 1995 recommendations and include several significant changes. For starters, the new guidelines emphasize that along with routine activities of daily living including casual walking, household chores and the like, people need moderate or vigorous aerobic activity on a regular basis.

Using a formula that calculates the combination of intensity and duration of activity, whether aerobic exercise or everyday activity, can help determine how to best meet exercise needs. Although recommended exercise varies depending on age, sex, health and other factors, the new guidelines emphasize the "more is better" concept, Thompson-Cundiff said.

"Exceeding the minimum recommendation further reduces the risk of inactivity-related chronic disease," Thompson-Cundiff said.

Short bouts of exercise to reach the minimum 30-minute goal for moderate physical activity are perfectly acceptable, but each bout should be at least 10 minutes long, she said. That's 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, five days a week or at least 20 minutes three days a week packed with vigorous activity. She said it's important to note, however, that for those trying to lose weight or maintain weight loss, 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity may be necessary to achieve those goals. In addition, muscle-strengthening activities should be incorporated along with aerobic, or endurance, activities.

Following the guidelines is critical to health and well being, Thompson-Cundiff said. Indeed, she said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics reveal a quarter of the adult population has no significant physical activity, a problem more common in older adults, women, the less affluent, and in the black and Hispanic populations.

Meanwhile, heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women and inactive people are twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease as those who are active on a regular basis. Just 30 percent of the country's adults get the recommended level of physical activity. Inactivity, coupled with poor diet, often results in people being overweight and the overweight have increased risks of developing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems and some types of cancer.

Currently, nearly 60 million Americans, some 65 percent of the adult population, are obese and some 41 million have pre-diabetes according to the CDC. Moreover, problems with excess weight and other typically activity-related health issues are becoming more prevalent in youth and children as well.

But, there's a solution. In a nutshell – get moving! Thompson-Cundiff notes that people can improve their health by exercising at home, alone, or with friends. Or, at the SIUC Student Recreation Center, exercise can take many different forms and even be personalized – and fun, she said.

The center has an Olympic-sized swimming pool, two squash courts, 11 racquetball courts, six basketball courts, a spin/bicycle room, dance studio, climbing wall, weight/training room, martial arts/fitness room, two indoor tracks and more. It's not just for students either. The public can utilize the facilities on a membership basis. Membership rates vary with discounts for faculty and staff, alumni, dependents and partners. Current SIUC students are automatically members.

A membership includes the chance to participate in all kinds of free fitness classes at the center. There are nominal fees for some classes and programs. In addition, for a charge there are nutritional services including metabolic testing and nutritional consultations, personal fitness assessments, consultations and group or one-on-one personal trainer sessions.

Programs literally run the gamut, from boxing to dance, yoga to outdoor adventures and that's just a glimpse into Recreational Sports and Services at SIUC. Along with the facilities and programs within the recreational center, Recreational Sports and Services also oversees the Lake on the Campus Boat Dock, Frisbee Golf Course, Lake-on-the-Campus Beach, lighted playing fields, Pulliam Gym and Pool, the Wall Street Roller Hockey Complex, the University and Law School Tennis Courts, the Skateboard Park, The Sport Club Fields and Jean Stehr Field.

Just as no two fingerprints are alike, neither are people or their physical and activity needs. But, Recreational Sports and Services strives to give ample options so everyone can find something to get them up and moving. There are programs just for women, intramural sports, programs specially geared for international students, youth programs and a virtual plethora of opportunities. The Adaptive and Inclusive Recreation Program even offers modified recreational activities to meet needs of students with disabilities.

For more information about Recreational Sports and Services at SIUC, call 618/536-5531 or look online at www.siu.edu/rss.