Would you like to lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes with one simple action? Would you like to help keep bones, muscles, and joints healthy, reduce anxiety, depression, and stress with the same action? How about controlling weight and improving energy levels, sleep, and appearance at the same time? What action could possibly have all these effects, you wonder??? It’s very simple: choose an activity that gets your body moving and stick with it!
That’s right, it’s that old friend, “exercise”! Now, before you turn away in disgust and dismiss the idea, let me assure you that all exercise does not have to be the regimented 1-2-3-4 and boring trips to the gym, flexing your flab in spandex.
I recommend choosing activities that are fun and varied. Even two or three, 10-minute walks a day will help. Gardening, housework, yard work, or walking the dog is a good start. Anyone can make a choice and reap the benefits. Even people with disabilities can do some sort of physical activity under their doctor’s guidance and improve heart, lungs, muscles, and bones, as well as flexibility, mobility, and coordination.
Regular physical activity helps control weight, which, in turn, lowers risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, arthritis, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and even some cancers. As you know, you can accomplish muscle strength and endurance with cardiovascular conditioning, stretching exercises, and resistance exercises or calisthenics; it’s true, and, if these traditional workouts suit you, then enjoy them and their rewards.
However, if time, opportunity, or just plain will power keeps you from accomplishing these workouts, I want to comfort you with the info that even 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity will lower the risk of disease and increase your endurance. Choose some fun activities that you can enjoy.
Go ahead! Dive into the pool. Swimming is a non-weight-bearing activity that puts less stress on your joints and is a great workout. Grab a friend and go walking or jogging on a peaceful park path or wooded trail. Satisfy that long-time secret desire to play ball and join a neighborhood team. Go outside and play with your children, ride bikes, skate, or play tag. Enjoy your exercise and your children.
Trick yourself into small bite-sized accomplishments! Park further away at every opportunity and walk. Skip elevator rides and take the stairs. Follow your child around the park to investigate trees, bugs, birds, and dogs. Every step you take helps.
If the weather is bad, rock the house with your favorite music and dance like nobody’s watching you. The kids will love it and will join right in. Vary your activities, so you don’t get bored. Vary your companions as well- children, friends, relatives, even co-workers.
Stuck at work? Drag your co-worker out for a lunch-time walk. It’ll be good for both of you. Visit with your relatives or friends as you walk the neighborhood. Enjoy your surroundings as you walk, jog, or ride your bike. Soak up the fresh air, sunshine, and listen to the birds. These things will soothe your soul and reduce your stress as you exercise your body.
Of course, I want to encourage you to wear proper shoes and clothing and drink plenty of water when exercising. Also, remember to warm up before and cool down after intense activity to stretch muscles and return heartbeats to normal. If you have any serious health problems, be sure to discuss your exercise plans with your health provider.
Enjoy your chosen activities, reward yourself for small accomplishments, and remember that every step you take carries you another step closer to overall health. Relax, have a positive attitude, and feel good about your new activities. It’s your choice . . . so take it – and enjoy your way to better health.
Eileen Silva, Ph.D., N.D. is a metabolic health balancing expert, talk show guest, and lecturer. Dr. Silva is also an individual, group, and corporate weight management consultant. Contact Dr. Silva at http://www.dreileensilva.com