Become More Active Every Day

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Lots of my clients ask how they can fit exercise into their already busy schedule. Exercise is one of the 3 components we teach to be Healthy for Life.

Easy ways to add this type of activity to your daily routine:

  • Park the car farther away from your destination.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
  • Take fitness breaks instead of cigarette or coffee breaks. Walk, stretch or do some office exercises.
  • Perform gardening, yard work, heavy house cleaning, or home-repair activities.
  • Avoid labor-saving devices; turn off the self-propel option on your lawn mower or vacuum cleaner, and hide all of your TV remotes.
  • Exercise while watching TV. For example, use hand weights, a stationary bike or treadmill, stretch, or perform body-weight exercises such as crunches, push ups and squats.
  • Keep a pair of comfortable walking or running shoes in your car and office. You’ll be ready for activity wherever you go!
  • Walk while doing errands.

Physical Benefits of Exercise

In the early 1980s, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a statement listing the following health benefits provided by a modest exercise program:

* Weight loss

* Lower blood pressure

* Stronger bones and decreased risk of osteoporosis

* Decreased risk of heart disease

* Improved sensitivity to insulin, which leads to a decreased risk of diabetes

* Increased strength and coordination, which lead to decreased falls and injuries

* Enhanced immune system

* Overall increase in the sense of well-being and greater ability to handle stress

Mental Benefits of Exercise

Exercise can also do wonders for your mind; it’s a great excuse to “get away from it all”! A workout can be a wonderful opportunity to relax your brain, to let your thoughts calm down, and to think about things that have been in the back of your mind for a while. There is a natural relaxation response that follows a good, healthy workout. It is hard to think about the problems facing you at work or at home after a nice, brisk three-mile walk or run.

Emotional Benefits of Exercise

Exercise stimulates your body to release natural chemicals called “endorphins”. Endorphins attach to special receptor sites in the brain that give you a “natural high.” Once you get used to a regular routine of exercise, you will look forward to the feelings you have afterward. In fact, many people who are struggling with depression, anger and discouragement find that exercise helps noticeably. Consistent workouts often give them enough relief and hope to move on to better things.

Relational Benefits of Exercise

Exercise can have a positive impact on relationships too. Time spent in the gym, riding bikes, or hiking are all are prime opportunities to spend quality time with family and friends. …or workouts can be a great time to be alone. Solitude is rare in life; exercise might be just the right excuse to find it. It may even be an opportunity to shut out the “noise” in our lives, even if it is just for a short period of time.

Start easy

Whatever you do, take it very easy at first and slowly build up. Your goal is to work up to five balanced workouts per week, each taking about 30 to 40 minutes each. For the first several weeks, just relax and enjoy yourself. Don’t overdue it at first! There is no such thing as “fast track fitness” (regardless of what they are trying to sell you on TV). If you’ve been struggling with weight or have been in poor condition or health for years, it’s easy to get excited and determined to get into shape and attempt to do so too quickly. This is not a race. Each workout is just a short-term goal on the way to a long-term vision. There is no need to get there soon, and trying to do it too fast will lead to burnout, pain, and possible injury that potentially could end your workouts

Whatever you do HAVE FUN!!

What gets you excited? Fresh air? Friendships? The park? Nature? Gadgets? Speed? Competition? Solitude? Music? Machines? Books? Think about what you like and build your exercise plan around it.

Putting It All Together

Your weekly plan will reflect your priorities, your goals, and your preferences. It will reasonably fit into your schedule and build slowly over time until you have an awesome, life-enhancing new experience as a regular part of your life.

In its simplest form your weekly plan will include:

* Slowly building up to five aerobic activities that get you breathing fairly hard for at least 30 minutes.

* Once you have built up to five aerobic workouts of at least 30 minutes each, then add two or three strength building workouts that get your major muscles burning once a week. (This can actually be a part of your aerobic exercise or be done at the beginning or end of an aerobic workout.)

A typical, balanced plan might look something like this:

Sunday: Rest Day

Monday: Aerobic Activity #1: Morning bike ride

Strength Building #1: Chest/triceps/abdomen

Tuesday: Activity #2: A rigorous evening hike with friends and family

Wednesday: Aerobic Activity #3: Jog in the park during lunch

Thursday: Aerobic Activity #4: Treadmill

Strength Building #2: Legs/shoulders

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: Activity #5: Stationary bike while watching TV

Strength Building #3: Back/biceps

To Your Success!

Lora Ulrich, Lifestyle Coach

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