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Health and Fitness for Life
Health is a funny thing. It is given to us as a child and we enjoy it without any appreciation for having the ability to do what we want to physically. We run, jump, skip and just have a ball with the energy and fitness we have without having to work for it.
As we grow into our early twenties, most of us slow down from our most active years and don't get as much 'natural' exercise. We walk less, definitely run less and for the most part, 'settle in' to a more comfortable life of going to work and, eating on the run, then getting home in time to watch TV all night. (not too much exercise in that, except for the thumb - changing channels)
As we approach and enter our thirties, we tend to gain a bit of weight, lose some muscle composition, and begin to notice that climbing a couple of flights of stairs leaves us 'catching our breath'. This is the beginning of a long, downward spiral of loss of health and fitness that slowly sneaks up in us - the next thing we know we are in our early forties and some of our friends are talking about the best blood pressure pills or anxiety reducing medications over lunch. What has happened?
Simple Daily Strategies
The best way to stop the plight of health decline is to begin with some simple daily strategies. One of the biggest reasons that health improvement products are everywhere is that humans have a tendency to look for the 'quick fix' and avoid having to commit to any long term fitness activity. We begin a diet or fitness program that lasts for twelve weeks and three days into it we rationalize that the timeframe of the program doesn't justify the commitment - so we quit and forget about our health until the next reminder shows up.
The solution is to create a short list of simple daily strategies that will keep us involved with making healthy choices, without causing us to give in and give up. Some examples of this strategy are to take the stairs instead of the elevator, park a block from work and walk the extra five minutes, throw a couple of apples in your bag to take to work so you stay away from the vending machine.
Some other ideas are:
- Do a little yard work instead of sitting down on the couch after work.
- Walk the golf course instead of renting a cart.
- Put a set of hand weights on the floor at the base of your couch so you can do a few simple reps while watching TV.
- Don't by sweets, cookies or ice cream when grocery shopping. The easier it is to get that less than healthy snack, the more often you will indulge.
- Create a list of 'healthy alternatives' for your grocery list. Apples instead of cookies. Bottles water instead of soda. Wheat bread instead of white bread. Margarine instead of butter. Yogurt instead of ice cream.
These small, simple changes can do a lot to improve your overall health quickly and are more likely to stick with you once you develop the habit of eating better and looking for quick ways to get in ten minutes of walking here and there. Its a lot easier to walk a little further to work that it is to commit to getting to a health club three times a week. You'll stick to it longer if you don't feel the pressure of the commitment.
For building overall fitness, you will want to create a simple exercise program. No, not one of those 3 page, 20 different machine workouts that confuse you into quitting. Get a set of hand weights, a simple weight bench and if money allows, some type of aerobic machine like a treadmill or elliptical machine for the cardio workouts. If you have the tools in your home and nearby, you will be more likely to spend fifteen to twenty minutes working toward a better body.
Long Term Effects
A leaner, healthier body will function better and more efficiently. Health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity are much less likely. Overall attitude and outlook will change when your body functions better.
Short Term Effects
You will have a clearer view of your day if you spend twenty minutes working out. You will lose weight and tone up in a short period of time. You will notice that you have more energy at the end of the day when you workout.
Creating and Living Your Plan
Sit down and write out a list of exercises that you like. (if you say you don't like any - write the ones you dislike the least.)
Find a way to do those exercises 3-5 times a week for fifteen to twenty minutes.