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Race planning can be an incentive to exercise

Hey, you. Yes, YOU!
Get moving!
Adults who are physically active are healthier, feel better and are less likely to develop many chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and several types of cancer than are adults who are inactive, according to “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans,” which was put out by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last year.
Regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity also reduces feelings of anxiety and depression and improves sleep and quality of life, the guidelines report.
For some that means just getting off the couch or out of the car to walk around. But many people who want to improve their overall health raise their aspirations a little higher — they want to race.
Steve Hare knows something about getting in shape and racing. He operates the Vermont Sun fitness center in Middlebury and has organized — and in many cases competed in — Vermont Sun triathlons and running races at Lake Dunmore for decades. Back in the 1980s, when he started training for his first triathlon, Hare set a goal for himself to take part in a race. Triathloning was a relatively new sport, and it required preparation in several disciplines, and he found that knowing there was a race coming up inspired him to keep training.
“Every time you think about that competition it motivates you to keep working out,” he said.
Although he was new to the sport, Hare had a bodybuilding background and he was a good biker, so he found some early positive results in triathlons. But he understands people who may have some anxiety about trying a new physical activity. Swimming is one of the three components of triathlons, and Hare says that when he started, “I couldn’t swim to save my life.” He had a friend who saw him floundering through his pool training and she gave him some advice: “Don’t do workouts, just swim and enjoy it.” By simply doing the activity, Hare found he could improve to the point where his swimming got to be on par with others, and even better than some.
That led him to the advice he now gives to newbies in the sport.
“A person who wants to do it, I say just enter a triathlon; do your best and see where you land,” he said. “The next goal is to finish it, and if you finish it then feel extra proud of it. Then you can go from there.”
Not everyone is built to win a race, but everyone can move. And you can’t finish a race until you start a race. For those who are really anxious and struggling with the idea of a competition, “sometimes I tell them to run/walk,” Hare says. “Just keep a steady movement. It is about the perceived exertion level — if you feel like you’re going to die, just back off.
“Go out there and finish it and have a nice smooth pace.”
So don’t be put off if you aren’t terrific right out of the gate in your first race.
“I tell them to teach your body how to process energy,” Hare said. “Then you can start pushing your envelope after that.
“If someone has a bad experience, give it another try or two.
Regular exercise is about repeated movement. If it turns out that you don’t like one type of race, after you’ve tried it a couple times then try another. Every episode of physical activity — even short ones — provide temporary improvements in cognitive function and reduces anxiety. According to “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans,” adults who are more physically active are better able to perform everyday tasks without undue fatigue.
“Increased amounts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity are associated with improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, including a healthier body weight and body composition,” the report said. “Adults who are more physically active can more easily carry out daily tasks like climbing stairs, carrying heavy packages, and performing household chores. These benefits are true for men and women of all ages, races, and ethnicities.”
The report suggests that adults ages 18-64 do the equivalent of 150 to 300 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes to 5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week — that’s 30 minutes a day with two days off per week.
“Regular physical activity is one of the most important things people can do to improve their health. Moving more and sitting less have tremendous benefits for everyone, regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, or current fitness level,” said Alex M. Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“The scientific evidence continues to build — physical activity is linked with even more positive health outcomes than we previously thought,” he continued. “And, even better, benefits can start accumulating with small amounts of, and immediately after doing, physical activity.”
As someone who organizes races on a regular basis, Hare loves to see new people get out, get moving and get it done.
“Seeing a first time triathlete finish it is fantastic,” he said.

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