The Healthy Corner

An introduction to fitness and how it can improve your lifestyle

Putting In the Work. Caitlin Ardito poses at the gym during a weightlifting session. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Ardito, December 3, 2020.

Putting In the Work. Caitlin Ardito poses at the gym during a weightlifting session. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Ardito, December 3, 2020.

Ethan Edmondson, Editor

     Fitness is a very important part of maintaining overall health and wellness, which is especially important in the era of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are a wide range of different things that you can do to improve your mindset, strength, endurance, or confidence, and there are many places where they can be done. Whether you’re a student, parent, or teacher, there is always something new that you can find.

     You have probably heard this from every health teacher and doctor, but exercise has amazing physical health benefits. According to the National Institutes of Health and the CDC, physical activity burns calories, increases energy, and reduces the risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and many other cardiovascular diseases. There are many different methods that you can use depending on what your goals are, which makes exercise a great activity for anybody. 

     Health teacher Mr. Jeffrey Raucci, who is also a coach for the track and field team, says, “Anyone new to exercising that doesn’t know quite where or how to start, just knows that getting started is the hardest part. Figure out what your goals are and then start navigating what exercises, workouts, and programs can get you to where you want to be.”

     Cardiovascular endurance can be improved through running, biking, swimming, or doing HIIT (high intensity interval training); each of these puts stress on your muscles, lungs, and heart over time. 

     Raucci utilizes cardiovascular exercise often, explaining, “I enjoy long, easy pace runs typically twice a week… The runs are an easy pace and are used as a mindful activity that improves cardiovascular strength and endurance.”

     However, there is also weight/ resistance training, in which weights or gravity are used to add more stress on the muscles. This causes small tears in muscle fibers, and the body repairs them by fusing the fibers leading to an eventual increase in strength and size. There are many ways to do this; using weights at a gym is by far the most popular way, but home workouts using bodyweight exercises are also an option. Some common weight-training exercises are the bench press, back squat, overhead press, or bicep curl.

     There are exercises for each and every muscle group, so programs can be customized to focus on weaknesses. 

     Senior and exercise enthusiast Caitlin Ardito has created her own personal regimen, saying, “I have a split workout routine so each day of the week is different but by the end of the week I’ve targeted all of my muscle groups.” This is just one example of a weightlifting split, of which there are many.

     According to Foran graduate and strength coach/ trainer Nico DeRosa, there are three most common and popular splits. The first is the total body split, which involves “targeting both upper and lower body during one session. Typically you will do this two to four times per week.” This split works great for beginners because there is not too much volume, which reduces risk of injury and forms a stable foundation for more exercise.

     Next is an upper/ lower split, in which a person works out by “targeting upper body one day, and lower body another day, or a push/ pull/ legs split…. This works great fro intermediate to advanced lifters, and does a good job of building both strength and muscle mass”, says DeRosa.

     Finally, there is a push/ pull/ legs split. DeRosa says, “This involves doing all pushing exercises one day, all pulling exercises another day, and then all legs…. This can be a great option for those looking to pack on muscle or build strength.” DeRosa also explains that each of these splits is suitable for athletes who want to get stronger. If you have any questions about workouts, lifting,or anything else you can think of, He is available by direct message on Instagram @elevate_strength.

     Aside from the physical advantages of physical activity, there are many mental and emotional advantages. For many, exercise is an outlet to relieve stress. 

     Math teacher Mr. Adam Kelly uses CrossFit-style workouts to challenge his strength and cardiovascular fitness both at once while clearing his mind. “I exercise because it gives me a concrete time during the day to focus on bettering myself and forget about everything else going on in my life.”

     If you are new to working out or don’t know where to get started, there are some very important things to keep in mind. Ardito advises new exercisers to “be patient and start little, whether it’s a small goal of drinking more water or a big goal of hitting ten thousand steps a day.” 

     Kelly agrees, while also stressing the importance of learning the basics. Learning the basics will decrease the risk of injury, allowing you to stay consistent. 

     According to Kelly, “We need to learn to put in the work on the foundational skills before we achieve any kind of success… Educate yourself, or go somewhere where a coach/trainer will make sure you are moving properly.  Once the foundation is solid, the sky is the limit!”