By Leslie Barker ~
Want the secret to better health, sleep, and sex? Less stress? Reduced chances of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and depression?
Lean in closely, and we’ll whisper it in your ear:
Before you vehemently declare yourself a non-exerciser, mull over these reasons to give it a go:
Higher fitness levels in middle age lead to a lowered risk of heart disease and depression even years later, according to Dallas-based research.
Exercise can help control weight. Although watching what you eat will better help you actually lose weight, exercise can help you keep it off. You burn more calories when you move. The more muscle you have, the higher the calorie burn.
Exercise combats diseases. Moving your body boosts the “good” cholesterol and lowers the “bad.” Your blood flows more easily, decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Exercise also helps manage or prevent stroke, falls, high blood pressure, and anxiety.
Exercise puts you in a better mood. I promise.
Are you intrigued? Good.
But if you’re counting the excuses on your fingers — I don’t like running, I don’t have time, I’ve never exercised, I’m too fat…
Well, running is just one exercise. Do you like to dance? Walk? Ride your bike? Play pickleball? Swim? Hula hoop? We rest our case.
Here are six tips to get into the workout groove.
1. You do have time. Do countertop pushups while your coffee heats. March in place during Wheel of Fortune commercials. As you talk on the phone, go up and down stairs or simply stand up and sit down. Walk down the block for five minutes, then turn around and walk home — and maybe try six tomorrow. It all adds up. Aim for a daily combination of 30 minutes.
2. Move with a friend. Take a fitness or yoga class together, in person if you feel comfortable or online if you don’t. Or meet for a walk. You’re much more likely to stick to a program if someone is expecting you to be there. Plus, you can catch-up on each other’s lives. Exert enough energy so you can only speak about one sentence at a time.
3. Keep tabs on what you do. I have a large calendar inside my pantry door, upon which I note every workout with bright felt-tips pens. Seeing that information right in front of you will egg you on to fill up every square in the month with your activities.
4. Plan ahead. You write down your dentist appointments and lunches with friends, right? Do the same with your workouts.
5. Set small and attainable goals that have nothing to do with the number of pounds you want to lose. Otherwise, you’ll get obsessed with numbers that don’t wholly reflect your health or, quite honestly, what kind of person you are (not that you might get down on yourself when you step on a scale, right?!). Instead, tell yourself every day you’ll walk for 10 minutes. Or you’ll drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up (because most of us aren’t drinking enough of it).
6. Remember to strength train. We’re not talking bodybuilding, here. Try, for instance, pushups against a wall: Go for 10 reps, then rest 10 seconds. Repeat two or three times. Or use canned goods for exercises like bicep curls: Hold the can, palm side out, resting your arm by your side. Without moving your upper arm, move the can up slowly until your elbow is at a right angle. Slowly lower. Do three sets of 10, three times a week.
Go for it. Small steps lead to big accomplishments. If you have workout questions, drop me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org.