Sitting is the New Smoking
Research has also shown that not exercising over time has the same ill effect on the body as smoking half a pack of cigarettes per day!
Assess your activity habits. Do you spend too much time sitting on the couch watching television? Are you circling the parking lot looking for a space close to the doors?
Reprogram your thinking. Think of regular physical movement in the same way you view bathing or brushing your teeth. That’s all exercise is — physical movement. The point is not to make physical activity an unwelcome chore, but to take advantage of every opportunity you have to be active.
Start easy and progress gradually. You may only be able to go 5 or 10 minutes at a time when first starting. Gradually work up over several weeks to the full 30+ minutes. When you can easily complete your 30+ minutes, then you can gradually increase intensity if you wish to develop higher fitness levels. It may have taken you years to get out of shape. Don’t try to get back into shape overnight. Give your body time to adapt and strengthen.
Research has shown that you’ll be much healthier if you regularly accumulate 30 minutes of moderate physical activity over the course of a day, you don’t have to get all your exercise at one time. It may be easier for you to break it up into two 15-minute active sessions or even three 10-minute sessions. If you walk 15 minutes to catch a bus or walk your dog, in the morning and again in the evening, you would get your 30 minutes. Maybe you walk 10 minutes before breakfast and again at noon each day and then bike or mow your lawn for another 10+ minutes in the evening. You can find places to exercise through out the course of your day, take the stairs, do some stretching periodically, and get on the floor and do some sit ups or arm dips. Wear a sports watch with a timer on it to keep track of your time. It is very motivating to see the minutes add up.
Weight training is one of the fastest ways to improve the shape of your body. If you’ve never trained with weights before, it is best to work with a personal trainer. They teach you how to protect your back, how many repetitions and how to breathe properly. You can still use light weights at home safely. To protect your back, if standing and working your arms you always keep your tail bone tucked slightly, with a slight bend in the knees, with your abdomen pulled in, avoid the sway back. Start with your lightest weight, a good start is 1-3 pounds (depending on your strength) doing 15 repetitions (reps), then increase your weight to 3-5 lbs. decreasing your reps to 10, then increase your weight to 5-8 lbs and decrease your reps to eight. You can work your biceps by doing curls, alternating arms and resting for a few minutes’ in-between sets. You can work your triceps by doing kickbacks, by bending forward at the waist, keeping a straight back, work one arm at a time, line up your elbow with your side with your hand that is holding the weight reaching toward the floor and now straighten your arm, keep your elbow tight to your side let the weight hang down, straighten arm and repeat till all reps are complete.
You don’t need weights you can use bands, or isometrics, which is just using your body weight. Instead of sitting in the chair, slide your bottom off but keep your hands on the chair now try to touch your bottom to the floor and then straighten your arms, these are called dips, it targets the back of the arms, or you could just do some good old fashioned push ups, start with bent knees if you need to.
The core should be worked almost everyday. This is one muscle that doesn’t need a recovery time. If training your arms or legs it is best to rest for 24 hours before you repeat the exercise.
We are talking about weights not walking. Your abdominal muscles, your core, support your internal organs and low back. Core work helps to alleviate back pain. Aim for 5 minutes per day.
Yoga is like a fountain of youth, so I put it in its own category. It will help to eliminate stress, improve your posture, strengthen and tone your body, get more oxygen in your body, and speed up your metabolism. These are just the physical advantages; there are numerous emotional reasons to practice yoga. The body contains seven chakras or energy centers and off of these energy centers are meridians, there are 72,000 that are like the branches on a tree. By breathing, stretching, inverting (even a forward bend is an inversion) and twisting, the body is opening up and clearing physical and emotional toxins out. You begin to reconnect with your true inner self, sometimes letting go of years of feeling stuck. Try practicing a few poses a day, stick with a simple sun salutation or just pick your favorites. Also, the goal is to try to get to at least one class a week. It is a whole body, mind and spiritual experience. If it’s not switch teachers until you find one that you resonate with. You will know.
The goal of exercise is to improve and maintain good health. It should not be something you do on occasion. You need to incorporate it into your life. Don’t push too hard and burn out. Keep it steady, hopefully fun and realistic. We are creating a healthy lifestyle. This is a marathon not a sprint, pace yourself and make sure that you give yourself a well deserved reward when you reach a goal. One reward will come automatically, by how much better you will feel. A day of feeling a little tired from exercising far outweighs a day of guilt because you didn’t. Keep it light, keep it fun and keep it up.