By now you have heard that an inactive lifestyle contributes not only to weight gain, but also to elevated blood fats, cardiovascular disease, several kinds of cancer and reduced blood sugar regulation.
Lack of physical activity/movement also increases depression, memory loss, cognitive dysfunction, fatigue and a host of other emotional and physical problems.
Having heard this bad news, imagine that today you hold the key to staying (or getting) well, feeling good and living joyfully, simply by starting a healthy lifestyle program that includes exercise.
Choose an Activity That Includes the Three F’s: Fun, Feels Good, Fits Into Your Schedule
When exercise becomes a chore and you are counting the minutes until it is over, chances are you will be included in the 70 percent of people that quit.
Pick a fun activity (you don’t even have to call it exercise) that you look forward to.
Exercise at an intensity that feels good. A moderate approach to exercise strengthens our immune system, balances our hormones, reduces stress and its side effects, and can miraculously improve memory and mood.
More good news. You can break it up into manageable amounts of time so it fits into your schedule. Take a short walk before work and add another 15 minutes at lunch time. When you start to move at a moderate enjoyable pace, doing something you like to do, you will soon find that the days you move your body are the days that you feel better, have more energy and naturally make healthier food choices.
The icing on the day is a better night’s sleep!
Intensity and Duration Are Key
Exercising at the correct level of intensity is essential. Exercise too hard and you speed up the aging process, risk injury and exhaustion, increase inflammation, or you get tired and stop exercising altogether.
On the other hand, if you don’t move that body with a degree of effort, you may not get the results you want. A good tactic to measure intensity is to monitor your heart rate as you exercise.
Duration equals the number of minutes you accumulate in a day. Start out with 20 minutes and increase by five a week as your endurance becomes stronger. Our new mantra then becomes: low intensity + long duration = a lean and healthy body.
Many people find that exercising with others keeps them motivated and excited about their workouts.
Here are some fun tips for extending your exercise network:
- Organize a get-together of a hike and healthy lunch rather than cocktails and a heavy dinner.
- Exercise with your partner. Research shows that exercising with your partner increases your odds of sticking with it.
- Walk with friends or colleagues at lunchtime, or invite them to workout to an exercise tape with you on the weekend.
- Start an early morning power-walking club in your neighborhood or office complex. All it takes is getting up 30 to 40 minutes earlier.
- Take your kids to the park and do a power walk around the perimeter while they play on the swings.
- Invite your friends to go dancing instead of grabbing a pizza and beer. Everything from salsa classes to night clubbing burns tons of calories.