Exercise and Health
“I like how I feel after I exercise, but it’s the starting part that I have a problem with most days”. Does this sound familiar? It’s the story of my life. I start to work out and may even do it for some weeks and months, but I struggle with consistency. What is it that makes others love working out? How do I make time for it? The answer is simple. We make time for what we consider to be a priority in our lives.
Why should you exercise?
Here are a few facts from womenshealth.gov, but in a few words, to improve your health. Exercise to manage weight and to take advantage of doing something healthy for yourself. Consider it a way of pampering yourself. However, there is also health many health benefits from making physical activity a way of life.
There is strong evidence that regular exercise can lower your chances of:
High blood pressure
Unhealthy cholesterol levels
Type 2 diabetes
Metabolic Syndrome – WebMD defines Metabolic Syndrome, not as a disease but a group of risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol, and abdominal fat.
Hearing this should motivate us to exercise. But wait, there’s more.
What can happen if you don’t exercise are out of shape and overweight?
High Blood Pressure
Type 2 diabetes
Sleep Apnea (breathing problems while sleeping), and some cancers.
How much exercise should you get?
There are many theories and views on how much is needed but the recommendation from the public health guidelines recommends a minimum of two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking, or gardening) or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise (jogging, aerobic and jump rope) weekly.
That isn’t a lot of time out of a week. It boils down to priority and time management. If you are looking to lose weight, you may have to increase your aerobic activity.
Type of Exercise
At one time, I thought the only important thing with exercise was cardio. I later found out from a trainer that I needed to also include strength training and flexibility through stretching in my fitness regimen. Weights are one way to increase strength but using your body weight is quite affordable and cost-free. I have frequent low back pain from scoliosis, but when I do stretching and strength training at home, I notice a big difference in the level of my discomfort.
By far, the most comfortable and cheapest form of exercise is walking. It’s free, takes little effort, preparation, but if done correctly will reap good results. It is also an excellent place to start for beginners.
The biggest question to ask yourself is why aren’t you doing it if you know you should? There are various reasons why many don’t, including lack of time, little or no motivation, no energy, and the demands of life.
Here are a few suggestions to help eliminate excuses for not exercising:
Try daily exercises at home, such as walking, gardening, or videos.
Wear a device that counts how many steps you are taking per day. I use the FitBit Inspire and I have greatly increased my movement during the day. I give myself personal challenges.
Have an accountability partner or an exercise buddy.
Hire a personal trainer.
Participate in group fitness activities.
Everyone needs exercise. It is one of the best ways to prevent illness, improve health, and slow the aging process.
Have you ever wondered why so many people are unsuccessful in exercise and changing bad habits? Maybe it’s due to the absence of one crucial ingredient that many need but don’t necessarily utilize; it’s an accountability partner. Without accountability, some of us will not do things that are necessary for good health. Sure, we all know we need to exercise; it’s just a matter of doing it.
I currently have some friends who are holding me accountable for exercise, drinking water, and eating correctly. We check in once a week and give our weight gains or losses. In addition to this, we also encourage each other during the week to drink more water and eat healthy foods. At other times we post pictures of our meals as suggestions for the others to try. We also have water consumption and exercise challenges.
Two are Better than One
There is a text in the Bible in Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10 that says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Now here are some of the benefits of an accountability partner.
If I become slack in my exercise or health management, then I have someone to say, “Hey, you can’t quit now, get up and keep trying.” Sometimes we may get tired of motivating ourselves, and that’s when an accountability partner steps in. When you run out of gas and feel like giving up, your accountability partner is there to motivate you not to give up. You may hear them say things such as, “That was just 15 push-ups, give me ten more. Hey, keep going, you can do it. Don’t stop!”
There is nothing like an encouraging text, email, or note from time to time from someone who is in your corner when it comes to health. “Hey, it looks like you’ve lost a few pounds.” (they notice) “I found a recipe you may like, try it and tell me what you think.” “You drank eight glasses of water today? You go, girl!” Are you exercising for 20 minutes? “You drank eight glasses of water today? Way to go!” “You’re exercising 20 minutes? Maybe you can go for 30 minutes.” Have you had your mammogram or physical this year? Accountability partners give gentle reminders and suggestions.
Many successful workplaces and groups incorporate accountability into their overall health plans. They put systems in place to keep employees healthy. Some things they offer are discount or free gym memberships, online health education, weight loss programs, or free health monitoring devices such as the Fitbit. Check with your place of employment to see if they offer any of these programs.
Exercise buddies can be just about anyone. They can be husbands, sisters, friends, co-workers, or neighbors. You can even find online partners and groups. There is a website called www.sparkpeople.com that has plenty of free resources for losing weight and staying healthy. They also have accountability partners/groups, recipes, exercise videos, and a wealth of other information. If being consistent is difficult for you to get an accountability partner. Remember, two is better than ONE!
Alright, I admit it. I have formed some bad habits. I am finally at the point that I can accept it and decide to do something about it. I have decided that if I am going to make some changes, I need some things to change my ways and not be a couch potato.
It’s taken me many years to develop unhealthy habits, and change will not come overnight, but it can come a little at a time. Here are a few things I plan to do to help me in my quest for a more healthy me.
The Fitbit Watch – I have the Fitbit Inspire 2 device that I think is quite comfortable and useful. These fitness trackers also come in many colors. A bright idea and valuable for people like meIt is undoubtedly the way to get started on the right track to good health. Here are some of the features of this watch.
• Get continuous, automatic, wrist-based heart rate and simplified heart rate zones
• Track workouts, heart rate, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes, and steps
• Monitor your sleep automatically and wake with a silent alarm
• See call notifications, daily stats, and time of day on the OLED display
• You can sync stats wirelessly and automatically to your computer and over 150 leading smartphones.
The Smart Scale – Most scales give weight, and if health is an issue, it’s good to look at more than this. A better scale costs a little more money, but it’s well worth it. The EatSmart Precision GetFit Digital Body Fat Scale can hold up to 400 lbs of weight. It measures the percentages of body fat, body water, muscle, and bone mass. It also stores information for up to 8 people so that the whole family can be healthy.
Exercise Videos – It is hard for me to go to the gym, so I use exercise DVDs at home. One DVD that works well for me is Leslie Sansone’s walking videos. I like this one because there are four workouts on one DVD, and I enjoy the workouts. It does not require fancy steps and moves, just walking. It’s beneficial if you are a beginner. During these sessions, a mile goes by quite quickly, and you can soon do two miles in a short time. She is a great motivator, and I feel revived afterward.
Amazing Grass Green Superfood – Green Superfood is a powerful blend of nutritious greens, phytonutrient-packed fruits, veggies, cereal grasses, digestive enzymes, and probiotics that increase energy, promote detoxification, and boosts your immune system. Amazing Grass Green Superfood is an excellent resource for someone wanting to get off the couch. Along with sitting comes and unhealthy snack foods. I believe that Fresh fruits and veggies are best, but if you need to supplement a little, Green Superfood is an excellent choice.
Prescription for the Couch Potato
Focus on today, not tomorrow. Take baby steps, get moving! Some think they need to join a gym, exercise long hours daily, or spend an hour a day to begin exercise. Neither of these things is true. All it takes is baby steps. I know someone who was so heavy they couldn’t even walk two houses down from their home in a subdivision.
She started by just going to the mailbox. She did that until she could do so without panting for her next breath or stopping. She then walked to the home next door until she could do so without being out of breath. She then increased her activity slowly until she made it to the end of the block.
After a while, she was able to walk a mile. She lost a significant amount of weight by concentrating on today and not trying to do too much at one time. What activity can you do today that will start you on the journey to making life changes? Just pick one thing and do it consistently until you are comfortable, and then add another activity. Here are a few suggestions:
Walk – it’s free. No membership is required. You don’t need any fancy equipment, just some comfortable walking shoes.
Start Gardening – This is one of the most therapeutic ways to relax, get in touch with nature, and exercise simultaneously.
Use a pedometer – This is a much cheaper alternative than fitness watches. Some years ago, my church started a walking program where we track our steps per day. I noticed that I take more steps when I wear the pedometer. It always challenges me to do more or to reach a specific goal.
I started trying to increase my walking to 10,000 steps per day, and I noticed I was deliberate in how many steps I took. I would park far from my workplace, church, or the store and take more steps to reach the goals I set for myself. Try it; pedometers are inexpensive. Here is the one I use. On your breaks at work, walk. It’s better than sitting or being a couch potato, and it also relieves stress.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator. I walk along the hallway at work, sometimes back and forth two or three times for short power breaks.
Take five-minute exercise breaks and do wall push-ups, squats, or any other arm or leg exercises.
It doesn’t take much, just a little effort and a whole lot of determination. So go ahead, get to moving. Don’t be a couch potato, be active. Decide to change your life, not tomorrow but today.