Healthy Days and Nourishing Ways

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Fit to Exercise
 What do we think of when we hear the words fitness and exercise? Do they make us cringe or do they make us want to get up and move? Would we rather watch a sport or play one? We all know that there are lots of benefits to exercising and being fit, but isn’t it easier to think about exercising or watch someone else exercise? Unfortunately, just thinking about doing it or merely being a spectator does not help our bodies get or stay fit.

We can list several reasons not to exercise:

·         No time

·         Too tired

·         Bad weather

·         Can’t afford to

·         Don’t think about it

·         Plan on starting tomorrow

Before we talk about how exercise and fitness can be affordable, routine, and a part of our lifestyles right now, let’s list some of the benefits:

·         Relieves stress

·         Keeps oxygen flowing

·         Helps us maintain a healthy weight

·         Makes the heart work which keeps that important muscle fit

·         Allows us to meet people

·         Gives us energy

·         Helps us sleep

·         Promotes health and repair of muscles 

Let’s determine how we can reap the rewards from exercise right now despite our busy schedules that leave us exhausted at the end of the day. And let’s spend little, if any, money. Who needs those expensive, fancy outfits and equipment?

The first step requires a mental change, not a physical change. We need to think of exercise in a positive way, not a negative way. We need to think of exercise as a natural healer, stimulant, and anti-aging aid. And we need to think of exercise as anything that gets us up and moving around. Exercise is more than just traditional, boring, repetitive movements like sit-ups that we have every intention, or almost every intention, of doing and then quit. Why do we quit? We quit because sit-ups, push-ups, aerobics, and other traditional exercises are not fun and they do not fit into our busy lifestyles.

OK. How do we make exercise more fun, more compatible, and less boring? We know that exercise should be a natural and positive force in our lives, but how can we make it fun and routine? We are faced with opportunities every day to move more. Instead of choosing the path of least resistance, be daring and choose the alternative. Instead of using the escalator or elevator, use the stairs. Instead of going the usual way to the rest room at work, go the long way. And instead of driving around the parking lot waiting for an open space near the entrance, pull right into one of the farthest spaces. Maybe one day people will be searching for the parking spaces that require the most walking.

Exercise does not have to involve a trip to the gym. Weight lifting, however, is believed to be one of the best ways to build muscles and prevent bone loss. This can be done at home with your own equipment (which makes a great gift idea) but requires some knowledge on doing it properly. And remember that it’s not necessarily the amount of weight that is lifted but how the weights are lifted that will bring about the most benefit.

What are we already doing that qualifies as exercise? Cleaning the house gives us the obvious, a clean house, but it also gets us moving. How about walking the dog, washing the car, mowing the lawn (using a push mower of course), and raking leaves. (Does anyone rake leaves anymore?) These are not considered examples of traditional exercise; however, all of these activities can count as exercise because we are moving around and not sitting or eating. Hey! Put down that sandwich! We are accomplishing a task and exercising at the same time. But can we do more? I think so.

Go outside and walk (even if you do not have a dog), ride a bike, or throw a Frisbee. When did you last play badminton? How about getting the family outside for a game of kickball or softball? Outdoor activities give us the added benefits of fresh air and sunshine. Sunshine, only 15 minutes a day, is used for the production of Vitamin D which helps keep our bones strong.

What else can we do?

·         Walk in the mall or the park.

·         Put music on when cleaning or doing traditional exercises.

·         Dance! I am sure you can find your own star to dance with or else do a solo.

·         Notice nature when you are outdoors.

·         Sleep! A good night’s sleep allows the body to heal and gives us the energy we need to move more while awake.

·         Improve your mental health by having a pleasant thought or image when being active. For me it is thinking of the ocean.

·         Jump rope.

·         Walk with a coworker during lunch or break.

·         Take a trip to a town with sidewalks and go for a stroll. Or if you are lucky enough, go for a walk on the boardwalk or better yet, on the beach.

The key is to view exercise as an opportunity to do something really good for both the mind and the body. There are endless ways to incorporate exercise into our lives every day—we just need to recognize them and take advantage of them.

So why are you still sitting down? Get hopping, skipping, jumping, or doing whatever you enjoy doing that gets you moving! Don’t wait another moment. Those healthy days and nourishing ways are only steps away.