A truly healthy body is flexible, strong, full of energy and stamina.
I watch my three-year-old grandson. He's constantly bending, squatting, getting down on the floor, then up on his toes, climbing, skipping, reaching. He often gets sweaty, but he's never out of breath. He has a good appetite and he sleeps like a log. And he's cheerful, curious, inventive. The picture of health!
Now, I'm 55 years older than he is. Obviously my stamina and agility are no match for his. I'm also unfortunately quite overweight, which means my joints are somewhat stressed and I do occasionally get out of breath.
But improvement through baby steps and consistency is the name of the game.
How should I exercise?
- Vigorous exercise in the morning before you eat breakfast is better for weight loss, while exercise mid-afternoon is better for strength and endurance. Vigorous exercise will be different for everyone, depending on your age and current level of fitness. You want to get your heart rate up to about 80% of your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age) for about 20 minutes.
- Get moving as soon as you get out of bed to speed up your metabolism. Start with stretches, then maybe some pushups or leg lifts and jumping jacks, and end with a brisk walk or run around the block.
- Can't find time to go to the gym? Make it a habit to do 25 jumping jacks every time you come out of the bathroom and during every TV commercial. It won't take any real time from your day, but it will improve your health and fitness.
- Pay attention to your posture. By simply having better posture, your body is able to burn 10% more calories. How do you know your posture is good? Stand or sit with feet flat and shoulder width apart, clasping your hands behind your back with your arms fully extended (your hands will be near your tail bone). This tends to push your rear in, your sternum up, and your shoulders back yet down.
- Do not spend your entire day or evening sitting! For every hour you sit, spend five minutes standing, stretching, jogging in place, or taking a short walk. Drink a glass of water or a cup of green tea before resuming your seat.
- Think of ways to get more movement into every day. Always park at the end of the lot, take the stairs, ride your bike or walk rather than taking the car for short errands.
- Resurrect activities you used to love but have neglected lately. Did you dance, bowl, play tennis or softball, swim, hike? Think of ways to ease back into doing one of those things. If it's a matter of time, consider whether your health is less important than all of your other commitments. Is there one you can set aside in favor of getting more movement every week? Can you shift some time from TV viewing or social media browsing to improve your healthy lifestyle?
- If you're new to exercise, or just getting back into it, follow these tips:
- Make sure to begin by stretching.
- Get some new sneakers; wearing your worn-out pair will not lead to success.
- Stay hydrated.
- Do intervals at first: choose a slow pace for two minutes, then as fast you can for one minute. Continue this alternation for 20 minutes, ending with the slow, cool-down pace.
- Keep your goals small. The important thing is to build consistency.
Remember, you're not trying to be impressive, just consistent. Simply move more!