I am guilty of laziness, my own pet peeve! About 6 weeks ago I caught a little cold. Nothing big, but it was enough to throw a wrench in my daily routine and before I knew it, exercise had given way to other things….(ok…sleeping!)
Exercise is as important as your diet or daily medications when you are looking to stay healthy. But you don’t have to run a marathon to cut your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. All it takes is a little time and effort.
- moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week (moderately intense would be walking briskly as if you need to catch a bus, you sweat, but you can hold a conversation)
- vigorously intense cardio 25 minutes a day, 3 days a week (running, using the treadmill with incline or “uphill” slant at a rapid pace, jumping rope, outdoor cycling, sweating and breathing hard)
- 8 strength-training exercises (8-12 reps of each) 2 x per week
Note: If you are exercising to lose weight, your will probably need to increase the times to see results. Start with the minimum, and add 10 minutes to the workouts each week until you see results.
The term “cardio” refers to any exercise that gets you heart rate up and keeps it there. It usually involves repetitive motions involving the large muscle groups like walking, running, biking, swimming, rowing, nordic track, elliptical jumping rope, stair climbing, etc
The term “strength training” refers to any repetitive motion that uses resistance and makes muscles or groups of muscles stronger and/or longer. Hereis a list of strength training exercises, but you don’t need a gym or weights. (I love this PDF file that you can print. It shows really “ordinary” people doing the exercises…..not toned buff models) You can use soup cans or water bottles for light weights if you want to. Some of these can be done anywhere–at work, while waiting in line at the bank, or in your kitchen waiting for your food to heat up in the microwave. I like to do squats and calf raises while I am cooking something on the stove (I can use the handle of the oven for stabilizing like in ballet). At times during the day, I will do some sit ups or push ups or lunges. Every little bit adds up.
The benefits of exercise are endless and include:
- more energy
- improve lung capacity
- reduce risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, obesity, arthritis, cancer, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure
- better sex
- improves your mood by increasing endorphins, the body’s “natural high” chemical
- promotes better sleep
- increases your immunity power
But how do you get back into your routine if you had one, and how do you start a routine if you don’t?
- find your niche
Humans are creatures of habit. The next time you take shower, notice how you wash each body part in the same order every day. This is not a bad thing. Routines help us cope and help us to get things done, and we’ve learned from an early age that routines are comforting. Picking a certain time of day for exercise means fitting it into your schedule and making it a habit.
- you don’t have to sweat for an hour
New studies show that you can get three 10 minutes bursts of moderate-intensity workouts and it can be just as effective as one 30 minute work out. This means you can take a 10 minute walk on your lunch hour, walk the dogs for 10 minutes when you get home, and ride the stationary bike for 10 minutes after dinner and you have completed a days exercise.
- you don’t need to join a gym
I don’t know about you, but I HATE working out with others. All I end up doing is looking at all the fit people in their tight shorts with their bulging muscles and getting depressed. You can stay home and do workouts like walking in the neighborhood, or doing an exercise DVD. Your local library even has some for your to try so you can see what you like.
- buddy up
Studies show that if you exercise with someone else, either a friend, a spouse or family member, you are more likely to keep it up and it is more likely to be enjoyable. Gabbing always makes the time go faster. You can make Saturday the day that the whole family goes for a walk in the park or goes biking.
- start slowly
If you can’t do 10 minutes at a time, that’s OK! Just do what you can, and in time, you will build stamina and it will get easier. Try adding 2 minutes each week to the time of your workout.
- make it enjoyable
There are many activities to choose from when looking at starting an exercise program. You don’t have to purchase fancy equipment or buy expensive clothes. Find something your like, and go with it. You can also mix it up for variety–biking one day, and an exercise DVD the next.
Stretching is an important part of your exercise. It warms up the muscles and gets them ready to start working and it makes the muscles longer and helps prevent injuries from falls. You can download and print this handy stretching guide to use. Stretching should be done before and after your workout, and can be done anytime. Flexibility is an important part of health.
Keep a chart so you can see your progress. Just like kids that need to see progress with your eyes, adults need this too. Especially since you won’t see the effects of your hard work right away. If you are starting exercise to lose weight, weigh yourself weekly, not daily. And remember that after you have several weeks of exercise behind you, you will start trading fat for muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat. This means you can be getting fit and losing inches, but you may not see it on the scale. when I first started working out, I lost 7 inches total in my waist, hips, etc. I looked and felt better and my clothes fit better, but I didn’t lose ONE POUND!
Before starting any exercise program, please check with your doctor.
There are many great resources for exercise. If you belong to a gym or fitness center, see if you can schedule several sessions with a certified personal trainer. Certified personal trainers have gone to school or have taken courses and have passed a test that make them experts in designing a safe exercise program specific to your needs. Some trainers will even come to your house if you don’t have access to one at a gym. Just make sure they are certified.
Below are some great websites with some great information.
Getting started is the hardest part, but once you do, and you see and feel the rewards, you won’t want to stop.