In the utopian dream world of the fitness professional, , everyone sets aside an hour or more a day for a complete workout, including aerobic, resistance and flexibility training. But in today’s society, we all know that’s not likely to happen. So, just how do we make it easier to get fit — and stay fit?
Finding all the reasons in the world not to exercise is easy. “I don’t have time.” “I look ridiculous.” “It’s raining.” “It’s too hot.” “It’s too cold.” “I’m too tired.” “I hate exercise.” Couch potatoes have hundreds of excuses which prevent them from exercising. Even those of us who understand the importance of exercise have problems from time to time motivating ourselves to do what we know we need to do. And people who belong to a gym or health club may notice the months slipping by (as well as their money) without finding the time to work out. How, then, can we overcome these roadblocks so that we can do what we need to for the sake of our health and well-being?
The single most common barrier to exercise is a perceived lack of time. It’s very easy to convince yourself that your morning session can wait until after lunch, then after dinner, then until tomorrow. In today’s fast-paced world, the failure to prioritize and schedule our exercise into our busy day almost guarantees that it will not happen. However, “no time” is a pretty lame excuse. Research has shown that exercise not only improves your health, but it also increases productivity, so you actually can accomplish more! Another roadblock…. Many people claim that they just don’t like to exercise. The first step is to find an exercise that you do like to do or can LEARN to like. Try hiking or walking with a friend. Or put on headphones when you are exercising and listen to your favorite music or Torah tape.
We are often discouraged from maintaining an exercise routine when we don’t see immediate results from our workouts. The first rule is: STAY OFF THE SCALE! Think about what progress you have made even if the weight isn’t coming off as quickly as you would like. Can you walk further or faster than when you started? Are you less winded? Can you lift heavier weights or do more repetitions? Do you feel healthier and more energized? Many people have unrealistic expectations, and when they have trouble reaching them, they are ready to give up. Be keenly aware that exercise is progressive. Have patience and set realistic, short-term goals for yourself. You don’t have to run a marathon to reap the health benefits of exercise.
But what if you are one of those people who really don’t have much time? There are several ways to work exercise and activity into your daily routine, and the benefits of doing even the minimum are immense. In 1993, the Centers for Disease Control in conjunction with the American College of Sports Medicine released their “Exercise Lite” recommendations. Based on scientific evidence, these recommendations clearly demonstrated substantial health benefits from moderate-intensity exercise. The basis of “Exercise Lite” is that each adult should accumulate thirty minutes of aerobic activity on most or all days of the week. A two-mile brisk walk will do the trick. Try this on the way to work and back, or on the way to shopping and back. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Two days a week, include some resistance training and come up with a basic five-minute stretching routine for each day. In particular, people who lead sedentary lives must adopt a more active lifestyle for their health and well-being. This requires only small changes that increase daily physical activity and enable individuals to reduce their risk of chronic illness, give them more energy and endurance, and enhance their quality of life.
Next week we will look at the practical solutions we can apply to our daily lives, to help us get fit and stay fit. Stay tuned!