Get Up and Move!
Fitting in Fitness – Eight Great Ways to Make it Happen!
You’ve probably heard this way too many times: “Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.” I hate to tell you this, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Regular exercise keeps you fit, strong, and healthy and helps you stay in balance.
Here are just a few other benefits from daily fitness:
- Exercise builds muscle, and muscle burns more calories than fat. Therefore, just by exercising, your body becomes more muscular, and creates a steady boost in metabolism. Muscles burn 8 calories an hour, vs just 2 calories an hour for an equivalent amount of fat.
- Exercise is a great way to get energized when you are feeling a little tired or drowsy.
- Exercise helps your body’s circulation and digestive systems. Healthy bowel function requires regular exercise. It also decreases blood pressure, blood sugars, and triglycerides.
- Exercise burns calories which makes it much easier to lose weight and maintain a proper weight once you are there.
- Exercise releases endorphins (hormones that make you feel great!), which also helps you have a more positive outlook.
- You’ll feel and see the difference immediately when you add regular exercise!
- No matter what your current state of fitness, you can begin to make exercise a part of your lifestyle right away.
Here are 8 Tips on Fitting Fitness into Your Life:
- Make a list of all of the ways you genuinely enjoy movement and exercise. Trying something new is fun, but if you’ve previously been successful at exercise, the best way to start again is to go back to something you already know. So if you’ve previously been a walker, don’t get a gym membership – get a pair of walking shoes.
Think of at least five things you love to do that could constitute exercise. Do you have fun dancing with the kids? It’s great exercise! Is it a stress reliever to take a walk after dinner? Go for it! Do you enjoy gardening, or tennis, or swimming? Make a list of fun things that get your body moving and you’re halfway there.
- Consider splurging – even just for one visit – on a personal trainer to get you started in the right direction. Often, once is all it takes, and you’ll be able to work on his or her suggestions for months.
- Walk more. Walking is cheap, easy, and a great way to unwind. As soon as you walk out your front door, you’re exercising. Can you fit in a short walk after dinner? If so, you’ll develop a great habit and get your metabolism revved up for the evening – bonus!
- Two very important words: MOVE MORE. Park further away, take the stairs, and walk instead of drive whenever possible. All those little steps add up and make a big difference.
- Make a list of your top 5 challenges in the area of fitness. For example, one of yours right now might be: “It’s too cold outside to exercise and I can’t afford the gym.” Look at your challenges, do some creative thinking, and list some possible solutions. For example, for the challenge I listed, one solution might be to bundle up and take walks, or to just join the gym for one month. Monthly gym memberships are often much cheaper than the cost of one coffee per day, and far better for your health!
- Consider using some of your extra time to exercise. Don’t think you have extra time? When I was working 70 hours a week several years ago, I developed a habit of eating my lunch before my break and instead using my lunch break to take a walk. My productivity went up, I felt better, and I still finished all my projects on time.
- If you have a sit-down job, you can rev up your metabolism by getting up every 30-60 minutes and moving a bit. Stretch your legs with a bit of walking, or even do some jumping jacks! Remember, it all adds up.
- Make a list of the top 10 reasons you want to exercise regularly and post it somewhere visible. It will motivate you! And when you’re motivated, you’ll naturally find ways to fulfill your desire for greater health.
7 Secrets to Fitness in Cold Weather
New York is cold and windy for many months of the year. However, the long winter months don’t keep me indoors. There’s still plenty of fun to have outdoors in the winter. Here are some ways to stay warm while you do it:
- Layer up. The key to successful layering involves the best base layer you can find. A good base layer should be a synthetic fabric or merino wool, but never cotton, so it won’t get wet and cold, but rather breathe the moisture away from your body. The midlayer should be a loose, thicker item, so you can wick moisture away while insulting with some warm air. The outer layer can be a lighter jacket.
- Start out chilly. Even with layers, outdoor activity can start off cool. Dress as though the temperature outside is 15 degrees warmer, and then you won’t overheat while exerting yourself.
- Get good footwear. Ice and snow require a good outdoor foot product or attachable cleats designed to help give you better traction in the snow.
- Carry water. Consider an insulated water bottle to keep your beverage from freezing, and consider bringing a warmer beverage, like tea, for sipping while outdoors.
- Illuminate your run. Darkness can be dangerous, so consider clothing with a reflective strip or something that is brightly colored. Headlamps are also very effective at helping you see the cracks in the pavement or the slippery spots on the trail while getting your exercise outside, after work.
- Consider the wind. Wind chill can make a mild day uncomfortable, as cold wind rushes up a sleeve or down the neck from an open coat. Wear a muffler or neck warmer, and tuck your gloves into the ends of your coat to prevent those annoying little chilly blasts from ruining your fun.
- Exercise with a friend. You may be less likely to skip it if you have someone else who is planning to go with you.
- Wear great socks. In the winter, I always choose ski socks to wear with my running shoes instead of exercise socks. I can stay out a lot longer without chilly toes.
- Women: Buy a skirt. (Men can wear long shorts.) My upper thighs get very cold when I run outside, so I bought a great little skirt to keep them extra warm. I can stay out a lot longer, more comfortably, without the constriction of ski pants:
- Skip it. There’s nothing magical about exercising outside that you can’t get from a good treadmill, Zumba class or climbing wall. My latest love is spinning! When it’s blowing and cold I can still get my exercise in a warm gym. Simply get up and move during commercials on TV night — do 5 squats at each commercial break or every time you let the dog out — instead of snacking, and you’ll have a good workout completed by bedtime.
- Bend your knees when you go for a walk. By taking shorter strides and bending your knees you lower your center of gravity and give yourself more control. Shorter strides will also allow you to bear weight on your entire foot instead of doing a heel to toe strike, which will also protect your balance when the footing is delicate.
- Leave your hands out of your pockets. Hands will break a fall in case of a slip, and the bones of your forearms are much more durable than the bones of your face in case you slip and fall.
JUST DO IT!
YOUR BEST LIFE, RIGHT NOW
A 10- to 20- minute sweat session daily will:
- 5% increase your “good” HDL cholesterol (American Heart Assn)
- 10% lower your chance of dying of any kind of cancer (Taiwan Study)
- 14% decrease your heart disease risk (Circulation)
- 18% reduce your risk of getting breast cancer (American Cancer Society)
- 50% lower your risk of depression from job burnout (Journal of Applied Psychology)
- 60% reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s dementia (Stroke, 2012)
Create the very best you, with each step and each breath and each sweaty exercise activity.
Posted on by Mary Clifton, MD