More options than ever in Hampshire County challenge common excuses
With so much of the focus on losing weight when it comes to fitness, sometimes the pressure feels almost too high to get up and get moving. Add that to a busy schedule filled with a demanding job, a couple of kids and important family obligations, and being physically active may seem like a daunting and unrealistic task.
But it doesn’t have to be.
With more exercise options available in Hampshire County than ever, the excuses for not participating in some sort of regular physical activity are losing more of their validity.
Trina Cox, the director of the Hampshire Wellness Center, explained that sometimes for older folks, it's more of a mental block when it comes to physical activity.
“It’s a mindset. We never grew up in a generation that knew what it meant to ‘work out.’ I think for most of (the older age group), it’s a hard concept,” Cox said. “Unless you were an athlete in this county, you weren’t really active.”
When considering exercise options, you need to understand what it takes to be considered “active.” Cox said that in order to be considered active, folks should aim for at least 20 to 40 minutes of continuous movement per day at their target heart rate.
While the term “target heart rate” may sound a little like fitness-junkie jargon, it’s simple enough to calculate.
Your target heart rate is 220, minus your age, multiplied by 60 percent (0.60). Whatever the resulting target heart rate, measuring it is just as simple as calculating it. If you don’t use some sort of fitness tracking watch or tool like a Fitbit, just count how many heartbeats per minute you feel, sort of like checking your pulse.
“Target heart rate is a component that many people don’t understand that they have to get to,” Cox explained. “I think they don’t understand that it really takes a lot to burn calories.” Sustaining your target heart rate for 20 to 40 minutes per day is when the body starts working the heart, and that’s when fat pounds start to drop.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that less than 5 percent of adults get the recommended amount of physical activity per day.
“We live in a world where we want ‘quick,’ we want instant results and unfortunately with weight loss and exercise, that’s just not the case,” Cox said.
Hampshire County, according to Cox, has more options for physical exercise now than ever before.
“In this day and age, there’s something available,” Cox said. “Whether it's the Wellness Center, whether it’s Warrior Fitness, whether it’s Spring Valley, whether it’s Capon Bridge.
“Fifteen years ago, we had none of that. Maybe an exercise class in a church basement. The fact that there are options now, excuses can be less.”
Folks in this county have busy lives, and sometimes exercise doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. People have jobs that require a commute oftentimes, and pairing that with commitment to their kids and their families, exercise isn’t on the schedule.
“You still have work, you still have kids, and there needs to be a work-life balance,” Cox said. “You have to find that, and you want to be there for your kids when you get older, and your grandkids.”
Cox also said that as far as having busy schedules, folks do have options. They just might not be options that have been considered before.
“It’s about prioritizing and finding time. We’ve got 6 a.m. workout people and we’ve got people coming through the doors at 7 p.m.,” Cox acknowledged. “You find the time, because it’s important.”
Arguably one of the biggest obstacles to physical exercise in this county comes in the way of finances. Gym memberships aren’t free, and home exercise equipment prices aren’t always budget-friendly. However, being active doesn’t necessarily depend on your wallet.
There are places around the county that present opportunities for physical activity; they just require a little bit more creativity.
Bill Lipps, HHS cross country coach, said that he tries to exercise 5 days a week if he can, and he typically runs in Romney or on the Paul Clovis Trail at HHS.
“I try to follow guidelines of several personal trainers I know and do core workouts for injury prevention along with stretching, especially afterward,” explained Lipps.
Hampshire County is home to several public parks as well, where community members can walk, run and more. For example, Hampshire Park on River Road offers a walking path where one lap equals a quarter of a mile. The park also is home to several fitness stations, such as fixed equipment for sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups and more.
Exercise doesn’t always have to include weights or treadmills. Even in the colder weather, bundling up and heading to one of Hampshire County’s parks or trails to get the heart rate up is a viable exercise option.
Or, as Lipps mentioned, some of the downtown areas of Romney or Capon Bridge, anywhere with sidewalks or safe roads, can offer a suitable alternative for those who might not have the funds for a gym membership.
Cox said that it’s “easy to be unhealthy in this area,” but the limitations and obstacles to fitness can be worked around, as long as folks are willing to make an effort to live a healthier lifestyle.
“You have to find your passion and find what moves you, whether it’s a class, or if it’s walking in town with someone or walking the track with someone, bike riding, whatever it is,” Cox said. “Having a goal is important, having something to strive for. When you start meeting goals and seeing results, that’s motivation.”
With all of the New Year’s resolutions to get fit or lose weight, now is a good time to consider what being “healthy” means. Cox explained that not everyone has the same fitness goals, and nor should they.
“It looks different for everybody,” Cox said. “It’s not always ‘let’s lose 5 or 10 pounds.’ Let’s just walk to the top of the stairs without breathing hard. Let’s not have to take the elevator anymore. You have to start somewhere.”