In our last chat, we talked about the mental aspect of living the healthy lifestyle. And while the mental well being is perhaps the cornerstone of being healthy, it takes those other components as well. Incorporating physical activity into our daily lives ranks almost as important as mental wellness.
Being physically active is very important for us in several ways. It is not just about keeping weight in check by burning those calories (more on this in a later post), being active strengthens our heart and muscles as well making chemical changes within the body that make us feel good overall. So, how do we go about this exercise en devour, especially for those who have never been active as kids or as adults?
On the one hand, being physically active can seem simple enough but on the other hand, it can be down right impossible to start and continue. To get some exercise we just need to move our bodies, right? But how do we move, how long, do we need equipment, training, and very importantly, are we even healthy enough to begin exercise?
First things first, get a physical from your physician if you are new to exercise. A doctor can perform basic tests to determine if you are able to engage in any activities and if there are any limitations you should keep in mind. Many doctors can recommend certain types of exercise and often times, point us in the right direction to get started.
Once we determine we are healthy enough to start moving our bodies, what’s next? As we can guess there are many options available. Join a gym and blunder along or hire a personal trainer or join a fitness group of like-minded individuals. Other options include taking up a team sport, finding a personal coach, or ask a friend to help. The list to get moving is endless and can be overwhelming when looked at as a whole. Starting to exercise and be physically active does not have to be complicated, expensive, or overwhelming. And very importantly, it should not be stressful in any way. So, how do we start?
Let’s keep it simple. Put on some comfortable clothes such as loose shorts and T-shirt. Lace up those sneakers, tennis shoes, running shoes, or any other shoe that provides support (no flip-flops or spike heels). Walk out the front door and walk at a comfortable pace for 5 minutes. Turn around and walk back. The next day, add 3-5 minutes on the outbound and turn around. Build on this concept until you have reached 30 to 60 minutes, 3 to 4 days a week. That is it! That is the start of your exercising.
Now, many variations exist on this basic concept. Going to a gym and getting on a treadmill or elliptical machine, Climbing stairs in a tall building. These are all options that will get you moving.
Will there be obstacles? Absolutely! Let’s tackle some of those potential trip ups.
Mental Mindset and Commitment: In order to make the change in your daily living you will need to make a mental shift from not living a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise to one that makes exercise a part of your day. In order to do this, it helps to remember why you are doing this mental movement.
Time: This is often the number 1 excuse people express when it comes to exercising. “I don’t have time due to family, work, other commitments, etc.” Trying to make “time” is …well, a waste of time. Incorporating exercise into your healthy living lifestyle works best if the activity is just part of your day. Like brushing your teeth; you just do it. And in order to “just do it” we most likely will have to make adjustments to our routines. It is about the mindset. Make up your mind to change your life to a more healthy existence and stick with it. There are some studies out there that say it takes three weeks to establish a new habit. If we believe those studies, then we can make the commitment and make the shift to the new lifestyle in three weeks, right? Well, three weeks is a good start but realize moving yourself towards a healthy lifestyle is a change we are making for life, not just three weeks.
Limitations induced by outside influences: Many to most of us are bombarded with commitments; some are self-induced and some are imposed on us in one form or another. Having family obligations can be the most challenging obstacle. From children’s activities to a spouses needs to immediate and extended family, this time and energy consumers can derail even the most dedicated exercise attempts. And to say the least, we love our families and put those priorities at the top of our importance list but how can we find the time and energy for ourselves? How do we make the shift from a sedentary lifestyle to one that includes exercise but yet still allows us to put our families first?
One of the easiest ways we can incorporate physical activity into our daily lives is to include the family. Regardless of age, kids can join in on the fun. For those that are of walking size, go on an adventure walk outside. Give them items to find like a pine cone, a certain type of leaf, a plant, or even man made items like a color of car or see who can spot the most telephone poles. Keep them entertained and they (and you) will find this exercise thing a good deal!
Even the little tykes can get in on the fun. Put them in stroller and out the door you go. Many moms have a stroller designed specially for taking the younger set on the runs and walks. These high tech roadsters come in several versions, some being a two seated!
What if the rest of the family has their own agenda and those agendas often include you, leaving you very little time and energy of exercise? it is as simple as making time for yourself. How? Get up earlier than the rest of the family and get your exercise done. Gyms/workout facilities/organizations are stocked with workout classes that begin as early as 430am. Find a walking/running group that meets early, such as the 5am group at your local running store or gym. If this is the only time you have, then make it happen. Yes, getting up early can be difficult but the payoff is worth it. The other option is the late night crowd, those that workout/exercise/run/walk late at night after the kids have gone to bed.
The point is that if you make the commitment to have exercising be a part of your day, then you will make it happen. Your family will adjust if needed and hopefully they will see the benefits of how all of this physical moving is helping you.
After finally changing the mindset and overcoming any obstacles, why are we doing this exercise thing anyway? Just what does it do for us?
One of the biggest attractions is the calorie burn we get from moving our bodies. This, in turn, keeps our weight in check or allows us to lose those unwanted pounds. All of us burn a basic number of calories per day just to exist but when we add in exercise, we burn more calories and thus that helps in keeping our weight at a healthy level.
Moving those muscles, especially with strength training, we are making them stronger. There is no need to become a hulking body building (although that is an option). Just a basic weight lifting program can give significant benefits. Stronger muscles means better stability, less chance of injury while we go about our every day lives. Externally, we see our bodies gain beautiful muscle tone which gives us a more attractive appearance.
Not only do we gain muscle strength and tone by exercise, we make our hearts stronger. By increasing our heart rate through movement, we are asking that muscle to increase conditioning so that we have lower overall heart rates. Lower heart rates makes the rest of our bodies work more efficiently.
The last component of benefits from exercise is the chemical reactions that take place within the brain and lymphatic system. These chemicals, endorphins and the like, produce a “feel good” reaction and makes us calmer and more relaxed. When we are calmer and more relaxed, we are better able to handle the challenges of life.
To say the least, exercise in any form is a key factor in our journey to a healthy lifestyle. From burning more calories to strengthening our muscles to feeling better overall, incorporating exercise into a daily life helps in may ways.
In our next discussion, we will look at some endless variations of exercising.
GoBe Healthy. Sarah at gon4run.com