by Bette Vargas
Exercise continues to be the best prescription for overall health and fitness. Yet over 250,000 deaths in the United States are attributed to a lack of some form of consistent physical activity. Studies have conclusively shown that physical activity has beneficial effects on non-insulin dependent diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and colon cancer.
If you want your heart to be healthy for the rest of your life, follow this prescription:
- Love Your Body. Know your numbers. In addition to your blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rate, understand how your body fat, basal metabolic rate and body mass index affect your overall health.
- Eat to Live. Incorporate more fresh foods into your diet to crowd out the less nutritious processed foods.
- Attitude is Key. Laugh more, have fun, see the glass full and maintain a spiritual connection.
- Play Everyday. Move more. Physical activity can be anything that increases your heart rate consistently for about 30 minutes a day.
Don’t kid yourself. Be honest about what you realistically you can do. If you have always hated to climb stairs, step aerobics probably isn’t for you. Maybe a walk around the neighborhood would be more pleasant. Many people today are walking for fitness.
Consider your current state of physical fitness. If you haven’t exercised in years, start slow. As you get adjusted, you can increase your activity.
Think about your schedule. Are you a morning person? If so, then plan to exercise in the morning. If you’re addicted to your snooze button, plan to exercise in the evening. Start with just a small block of time, maybe fifteen minutes. As you get into your routine, you probably won’t mind increasing to twenty, and then thirty, minutes. If your goal is weight loss, in order to be effective, you’ll need to repeat your exercise routine 4 or 5 times per week.
Take advantage of any opportunity for exercise. Here are a few suggestions you can try today.
- Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator at work, school or the mall. Just start with one flight. Soon, you’ll be ready for two.
- Park your car at the far end of the parking lot. The short walk to and from the store or school helps your heart.
- If you ride a bus or train, get off a stop before your destination and walk the rest of the way.
- If you can, spend a few minutes of your lunch break taking a stroll around the campus grounds. It should help you stay awake after lunch.
- Think of housework as an extra chance to exercise. Turn on some upbeat music and dance while you work.
- Mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, and raking leaves are chores that can be used as a chance to exercise.
- If you have a dog, think of the dog as an exercise machine with fur. A brisk walk with the dog is good for both of your hearts. Make it a part of your daily routine.
- If you have a family, schedule an after-dinner walk. Make it quality time.
- Go for a hike, swim, or bike ride.
Now that you have a few ideas to jumpstart your heart, get moving!
Bette Vargas is a certified holistic health coach, certified personal trainer and champion racewalker. She can be reached via email.