There is no question people are facing tremendous demands on their time these days. These demands include work, family, projects, deadlines and commitments. Sometimes just getting from point A to point B on Long Island is a project by itself.
Finding the time to exercise, maintain or increase fitness, should be a priority for everyone. The therapeutic benefits of exercise are well documented. According to MedlinePlus (medlineplus.gov/), a respected source of health information, these benefits include:
• Weight control
• Stress reduction
• Less risk of heart disease or cancer
• Controlling blood pressure and blood sugar
• Increased circulation
• Improved sleep and
• Improved cognition and alertness
Contributing to the challenge of maintaining an improved fitness level are our hectic schedules, never-ending demands of work and family, dependence on driving as opposed to walking or biking, and poor eating habits, including over-indulgence of fast-food.
However, there are steps one can take to integrate more exercise into our busy and hectic lives.
There are three main components to fitness; strength, endurance and flexibility. Some activities address some areas better than others, but any routine activity is better for your overall health than being sedentary.
To begin, think about exercise in your everyday routine. Examples would include walking to a store or post office instead of driving, using the stairs instead of an elevator, biking to complete an errand, parking in such a way that requires more walking, and even some modest yard work around the house, as in gardening–planting flowers, or general cleanups.
The warmer temperatures and longer days present a great opportunity for walking around the neighborhood, hiking in the park, bicycling, swimming, outdoor yoga and many others.
Walking is a terrific entry level exercise. Walking at least 30 minutes a day decreases the risk of heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, some cancers, osteoporosis, depression and obesity. Consider attending your neighborhood’s street festival, farmers market, concert or car show. Begin by lapping the event to achieve 30 minutes of exercise, then relax and enjoy the event at your leisure.
Consider walking or exercising with a friend. You can exercise and catch up at the same time. Consistency is everything, so consider a routine that you can stick to. Most beginners abandon a program if it isn’t convenient and they don’t enjoy it. Walking with five-pound weights in your hands is a useful to increase the cardio-vascular component of walking and burn more calories. Consider an app on your phone to monitor your steps and keep track of your progress.
For those who wish to burn more calories, consider other outdoor activities such as swimming, biking, pickle ball or tennis. Speak to your physician prior to these activities if they are new to you. Remember that it’s summer, so drinking lots of water and using sunscreen are important.
Also, check the weather, it may be best to avoid outdoor activities in the heat of the day.
If you’re looking for a more formal program, there are Pilates centers, yoga studios, kick-boxing programs and fitness clubs such as LA Fitness and Planet Fitness. Many senior centers, adult education programs, and libraries offer beginner fitness classes. These may include aerobics, yoga or Tai Chi. Oftentimes, you can begin a program on a trial basis to see how you like it. Some of the programs conduct classes outdoors for a more natural setting.
If you have health issues, or have been sedentary for a long time, consult your healthcare provider before you begin a new or challenging activity.
In the next installment, we will discuss nutrition, metabolism and healthy eating. Stay tuned!