Easy Physical Fitness Tips for Life-long Health
Do these excuses about taking care of your physical fitness seem familiar?
- You're too tired.
- You'll start tomorrow.
- You forgot to wash your workout clothes.
- You like cheesecake.
There are probably just as many excuses why you think you can't stay in shape, as there are good reasons why you should. Unfortunately, these excuses often outweigh any motivation to exercise or eat right. Sure, you want to look and feel your best, but why does staying fit have to be so much work?
It doesn't. You can have stronger, more limber muscles; lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels; a strengthened immune system; and an improved self-image -- and you don't have to spend hours at a gym pumping iron or doing endless abs exercises. You also don't have to eat like a rabbit. Many of your daily activities burn more calories than you think. The chart below demonstrates how some of the functions you ordinarily perform burn calories and help keep you fit:
Consider These Facts
- 13.5 million people have coronary heart disease.
- 1.5 million people suffer from a heart attack in a given year.
- 95,000 people are diagnosed as having colon cancer each year.
- 24 million Americans use diabetes supplies to control their blood sugar.
- 50 million people have high blood pressure.
- Over 60 million people (one-third of our population) are overweight.
- 45 million Americans get headaches every day
The good news is that ALL the above conditions can be positively affected by maintaining a fitness program. But it's up to you to motivate yourself to be fit! No one can do it for you.
More Fitness Information
For the greatest benefit, 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic activity three or more times a week and some type of muscle-strengthening activity is recommended, along with stretching at least twice a week. If you are unable to maintain this level of activity, however, you can gain substantial health benefits by accumulating 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity a day, at least five times a week.
The chart above demonstrates how some of the things you do every day can help fulfill that requirement. If you look at fitness as a lifetime pursuit, with everything you do contributing to it, even dressing your child or repairing your car's engine can be part of your "fitness philosophy."
Another way to make sure you get the exercise you need is an easy one - walking. It is not as strenuous as other forms of exercise, such as tennis or jogging, and you'll reap obvious benefits, whether you're a senior citizen or a teenager. You'll get more restful sleep, even if you've historically had trouble sleeping. You 'll also experience a release of tension and stress and a feeling of overall wellness. Walking can also result in weight loss when combined with a proper diet.
Need a nudge? Here are some walking fitness and weight loss tips to get you started:
- Walk with a buddy. You'll improve your overall fitness as you catch up with friends.
- Stretch before you begin. Muscles need to be warmed up to prevent injuries.
- Wear the correct shoes. They should be comfortable with a rubber sole to absorb the shock of each step, especially if you walk on concrete or asphalt.
- Adjust your pace. If you're huffing and puffing as you walk, you're exerting yourself too much.
Using an exercise bike at home is also a great form of exercise that's both fun and easy. If you don't already have one, it's a good idea to do some research to see what others consider to be the best exercise bikes on the market. Finding one that's comfortable for you can make a difference in how often you use it, so it's worth investing time to compare before you buy. Once you have the bike, you might consider putting it near a television, so you can fight off the boredom that may result from a long ride.
And if you work in an office, you're probably really at risk for not getting exercise. Thankfully, there are office exercises you can do to at least add to your cumulative exercise total for the week.
Last but not least, it's important to point out that you shouldn't get too carried away trying to achieve fast weight loss. As they say, slow and steady wins the race. You'll have a much better chance of keeping weight off and staying fit for life if you take a reasonable pace.
Eating Right is One of the Most Important Fitness Tips
Unfortunately, we humans sometimes have an appetite for fatty, salty and sugary foods. (Who wouldn't choose a chocolate éclair over a stalk of celery?) Denying yourself the occasional treat will only make you crave it more, however, so forget about completely eliminating those "forbidden" foods -- just make sure you only reach for the gooey dessert after answering "yes" to two questions:
- Have you met your nutritional needs for the day?
- Are you really still hungry?
And remember, while it's best to fuel your body by eating the recommended daily servings of whole grains, vegetables and fruits, it's a good idea to take a vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure that your nutritional needs are being met.
Don't forget that when you exercise, your body needs four to eight ounces of water every 20 minutes to replace water loss. This also holds true for everyday activities that are big calorie burners. Keep in mind that if you feel thirsty during exercise, you've already passed beyond a "safe" stage of hydration. If you are exercising vigorously for more than an hour, you may want to consider sports drinks -- the extra carbohydrates in these drinks help your body to retain body -- and always avoid caffeine or alcohol, both of which further dehydrate your body.
Be patient about seeing results from any fitness program. If you're out of shape, you didn't get that way overnight. You won't get back in shape overnight either. Work your way into a routine, one step at a time. Pushing yourself too hard after a long period of only exercising the finger that presses the button on the remote can result in injury. And don't be too concerned with the numbers on your scale. Your weight might actually climb -- muscles weigh more than fat -- so aim for a certain look in your clothes rather than how much you weigh.
Remember that you're less likely to stick with a fitness routine if you don't enjoy it or if it doesn't fit well into your daily life. An enjoyable fitness experience that works well for you can mean lifelong health, increased well-being and a happier life. This means that if you haven't done so already, you have every reason to start on the road to fitness today!
© 2008 Carla Chadwick