The CDC recommends that adults get 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity 3 times per week or 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 times per week. Children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. However, not nearly enough people are reaching this requirement. Here in Harlem, half of the residents report getting no exercise at all! In addition to simplifying guidelines for identifying calorie and nutrient-dense foods, The Hip Hop Public Health team also utilizes the traffic-light model of GO SLOW WHOA in order to teach children and their families how to make the most out of their efforts in physical activity.
GO SLOW WHOA is a simple breathing technique that is used to make the most out of your physical activity efforts. The goal of using GO SLOW WHOA in physical activity is to “Train Smarter, Not Harder.” GO Exercise involves moderate intensity exercise and a moderate heart rate, such as brisk walking or jogging. At this level, most individuals will experience lots of sweating and hard breathing, but will not be out of breath. Your body burns the most fat at this intensity level, and is thereby ideal for fitness training as well as for weight loss and maintenance. This level of exercise intensity is also beneficial to the health and lungs and helps to prevent hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol. SLOW exercise involves low intensity exercise and a lower heart rate, such as slow walking. At this level, most individuals sweat very little and do not breathe hard. The body does not burn as many calories, however, the calories that are burned are mostly from fat. SLOW exercise is better than NO exercise and it does have some cardiovascular benefit, but it is not ideal for fitness training or weight loss and maintenance. WHOA exercise involves high intensity exercise and a high heart rate, such as sprinting. At this level, most individuals sweat and breathe very hard until they run out of breath. The body burns the most calories at this intensity level, but it is mostly calories from carbohydrates as opposed to fat. The body cannot sustain the intensity of WHOA exercise of long period of time due to the accumulation of lactic acid in the blood, but it is ideal in small doses for purposes of training and improving fitness.
To determine your intensity level, and classify each exercise, you can use a simple counting method or tempo while you are exercising. Using the tempo of the A, B, C’s (not too fast, not too slow), if you can sing or say “A, B, C, D, E, F, G” completely before breathing, you are at a GO intensity level. You could also count, 1- one thousand, 2- one thousand, 3- one thousand, 4. If you can say more letters in the alphabet or count beyond 4- one thousand before you breathe, you are at a SLOW intensity level. If you have to breathe before you get to the letter G or the number 4, you are at a WHOA intensity level. Try it out for yourself!
(Make this a hyperlink) Hip Hop FEAT (Finding Exercise Activity Thresholds) is the newest program being developed by the Hip Hop Public Health team to communicate the GO SLOW WHOA exercise model to children and their families in NYC and beyond. Designed with the help of Dr. Charles Foltz, Hip Hop FEAT joins Hip Hop HEALS as half of the Hip Hop LEAN (Learning, Exercise, And Nutrition) initiative. Stay tuned to invite Hip Hop FEAT to your school!