Regular Activity in a Balanced Program
A Consistent and Balanced Exercise Program is Crucial to Staying Healthy.
We are born to move. Every one of our cells moves and we need physical activity to keep our bodies fit and fully functional. Physical exercise can be as elaborate as fitness training and daily classes, or as simple as walking 30 minutes most days. We stretch and move actively to improve strength and flexibility and to maintain a healthy weight. Exercise, in its varied forms, stimulates metabolism, circulation, oxygenation, lymphatic activity, and neurological function, lessens inflammation and strengthens our immune system. Regular daily exercise can help more than the body; it can help improve mood and energy, reduce anxiety, stress and depression, and promote better sleep.
Lack of exercise can create a vicious cycle. The less we exercise and move, the less we want to. When we get out of shape we slow down. Then we can become depressed and not care for ourselves properly. We may be tempted to eat high calorie junk foods, gaining weight, and experiencing a general lack of energy and motivation. Then it becomes even more difficult to begin and maintain a good, balanced fitness program. Just consider that when you don’t feel like doing any kind of exercise that’s probably when you need to do it more.
Assessing your Exercise
You may answer walking, running, dancing or swimming, but really the BEST exercise program is “the one that you’ll actually do.” When people are given suggestions that are beyond their capability or try to do too much, they often end up doing nothing. So this key begins with motivation to be or stay fit and requires a commitment to a realistic program. Set goals that allow you to achieve some measurable outcome, such as to lose 5 pounds, be more flexible or gain more arm strength. And make it fun!
Exercise Questions to Ask
- Do you enjoy exercise?
- Which activities do you like most?
- Do you exercise daily? If not, how often?
- How many hours of exercise do you average weekly?
- Do you dislike exercise and find it hard to pick something that motivates you?
- Do you stretch daily? Do you run or engage in other active aerobic activity daily?
- Do you lift weights or do other strength and muscle development activities?
- Do you like to go to a gym, or do you prefer to be on your own?
- Have you been accused of being an exercise fanatic or exercising too much?
- Have you injured yourself from any of your exercise activities?
- Do you sense that exercise is helpful for your long-term health?
- What can you do to improve or enhance your overall fitness program?
What Can You Do?
Some exercise daily with a goal of 7-10 hours of physical activity each week
Stretching—for flexibility, also good before and after aerobics and/or weights
Aerobic activity—running, hiking, biking, or swimming, for endurance, cardiovascular health and detoxification (sweating)
Toning—using weights or resistance exercises, for strength and muscle mass
Energy balancing—yoga, qigong, and tai chi (especially helpful for elders)
Mood enhancing—dance and all aerobics support the feel good “endorphins”
Even with physical limitations, do what you can, from isometrics to using a stretch band, or even stretching or yoga in a chair.
Find a buddy to exercise with and make it fun!
Remember, if you aren’t already exercising regularly, have a physical exam before you begin and build your endurance at a healthy pace.