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Life Advice About Fitness and Exercise
Today, there is a growing emphasis on looking good, feeling good
and living longer.
Increasingly, scientific evidence tells us that one of the keys
to achieving these ideals is fitness and exercise. But if you spend your
days at a sedentary job and pass your evenings as a "couch potato,"
it may require some determination and commitment to make regular activity
a part of your daily routine.
Equal Opportunity Benefits
is not just for Olympic hopefuls or supermodels. In fact, you're never too
unfit, too young or too old to get started. Regardless of your age, gender
or role in life, you can benefit from regular physical activity. If you're
committed, exercise in combination with a sensible diet can help provide
an overall sense of well-being and can even help prevent chronic illness,
disability and premature death. Some of the benefits of increased activity
- increased efficiency of heart and lungs
- reduced cholesterol levels
- increased muscle strength
- reduced blood pressure
- reduced risk of major illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease
- weight loss
Improved Sense of Well-Being
- more energy
- less stress
- improved quality of sleep
- improved ability to cope with stress
- increased mental acuity
- weight loss
- toned muscles
- improved posture
Enhanced Social Life
- improved self-image
- increased opportunities to make new friends
- increased opportunities to share an activity with friends or family
- increased productivity
- increased physical capabilities
- less frequent injuries
- improved immunity to minor illnesses
Mind Over Immobility
Getting moving is a challenge because today physical activity is less a
part of our daily lives. There are fewer jobs that require physical
exertion. We've become a mechanically mobile society, relying on machines
rather than muscle to get around. In addition, we've become a nation of
observers with more people (including children) spending their leisure
time pursuing just that - leisure. Consequently, statistics show that
obesity and the problems that come with it (high blood pressure, diabetes,
stroke, etc.) are on the rise. But statistics also show that preventive
medicine pays off, so don't wait until your doctor gives you an ultimatum.
Take the initiative to get active now.
The Fitness Formula
If you're interested in improving your overall conditioning, health
experts recommend that you should get at least 30 minutes of moderately
intense physical activity on all or most days of the week. Examples of
moderate activity include brisk walking, cycling, swimming or doing home
repairs or yard work. If you can't get in 30 minutes all at once, aim for
shorter bouts of activity (at least 10 minutes) that add up to a half hour
Instead of thinking in terms of a specific exercise program, work toward
permanently changing your lifestyle to incorporate more activity. Don't
forget that muscles used in any activity, any time of day, contribute to
fitness. Try working in a little more movement with these extras:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park at the far end of a parking lot and walk to the office or store.
- Get off public transportation a few blocks before your stop.
- Get up from your desk during the day to stretch and walk around.
- Take a brisk walk when you get the urge to snack.
- Increase your pace when working in the house or yard.
- Mow your own lawn and rake your own leaves.
- Carry your own groceries.
If you're ready to move up to more vigorous activity, remember that "no
pain, no gain" isn't exactly true. The best-laid plans of many a
fitness program have been ruined by too much enthusiasm on the first day
and sore muscles on the second. A goal is an end point, not a beginning,
so work toward your goal gradually. Once you're in better shape, you can
gradually increase your time or distance or change to a more vigorous
If you have cardiovascular disease, you should check with your physician
before undertaking more vigorous activity. Likewise, if you're a man over
40 or a woman over 50 with risk factors such as smoking, high blood
pressure, high cholesterol or obesity, seek your doctor's advice.
The key to a lifetime of fitness is consistency. Here are some tips to
help you make exercise a habit.
- Choose an activity you enjoy.
- Tailor your program to your own fitness level.
- Set realistic goals.
- Choose an exercise that fits your lifestyle.
- Give your body a chance to adjust to your new routine.
- Don't get discouraged if you don't see immediate results.
- Don't give up if you miss a day; just get back on track the next day.
- Find a partner for a little motivation and socialization.
- Build some rest days into your exercise schedule.
- Listen to your body. If you have difficulty breathing or experience
faintness or prolonged weakness during or after exercise, consult your
It's a good idea to choose more than one type of exercise to give your
body a thorough workout and to prevent boredom. Also, you might want to
choose one indoor exercise and one outdoor activity to allow for changes
in your schedule or for inclement weather. Very few people live in a
climate that's temperate year-round. But weather extremes don't have to
interfere with your exercise routine if you make some minor adjustments.
When it's Hot or Humid:
- Exercise during cooler and/or less humid times of day. Try early
morning or evening.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Avoid alcohol, which
- Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
- Stop at the first sign of muscle cramping or dizziness.
When it's Cold:
- Dress in layers.
- Wear gloves or mittens to protect your hands.
- Wear a hat or cap. Up to 40% of body heat is lost through your neck
- Adjust the size of your shoes if you need to wear thicker socks.
- Warm up slowly.
- Drink plenty of fluids. You can get dehydrated in the winter, too.
- Stop if you experience shivering, drowsiness or disorientation. You
may need help for hypothermia.
- Let someone know where you're going and when you'll be back.
- Carry identification with you when exercising outside the home.
- Exercise indoors or try mall-walking when it's stormy. Don't risk a
run-in with lightning or ice.
- Build in warm-up and cool-down periods to decrease risk of injury.
- Avoid strenuous exercise for one to two hours after eating.
- Wear sturdy, well-fitting shoes appropriate for the activity.
- Wear brightly colored clothing when exercising outdoors.
- Add lights and reflector tape to your body or bike if you exercise
- Wear helmets and safety pads appropriate for the activity.
- Move against traffic if you must run or walk on the road.
- Don't let headphones distract you from observing traffic and safety
- Respect pollution alerts and exercise indoors when warnings are
posted, especially if you have heart or lung disease. Avoid areas where
traffic is heavy.
- Take special care of your feet if you are diabetic or have vascular
Diet and Action - the Fitness Combo
Did you know you need to burn off 3,500 calories more than you take in
to lose just one pound? If you're overweight, eating your usual amount of
calories while increasing activity is good for you, but eating fewer
calories and being more active is even better. The following chart gives
you an idea of the calories used per hour in common activities. Calories
burned vary in proportion to body weight, however, so these figures are
||Calories Burned Per Hour
|Bicycling 6 mph
Bicycling 12 mph
Jogging 5.5 mph
Running in place
Running 10 mph
Swimming 25 yds/min
Swimming 50 yds/min
Walking 2 mph
Walking 4 mph
|Source: American Heart Association and the National
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Before making any major dietary changes, you should check with your
doctor. But there are plenty of small changes you can make on your own,
such as avoiding sweets and salty foods and cutting down on fat in your
diet, especially saturated fat. For more information, see the Life
AdviceTM Program pamphlet Eating Right.
No More Excuses
You can probably come up with plenty of excuses for why you're not more
active. You're too young, you're too old, you're too busy, you're too
tired or you're in pretty good shape - for your age. But with few
exceptions, these excuses are pretty flimsy. There are activities for the
young and old and for those with little time. So the next time you think
about getting fit, don't ask "Who has time?" Instead, ask
yourself "Who doesn't want to feel better?"
For More Information
Tamilee Webb's Step Up Fitness Workout $11.95
AdviceTM Program price $7.17
To order this Workman
publication, send your check or money order payable to Packaging
Fulfillment Specialists to: Life AdviceTM Offer, Packaging
Fulfillment Specialists, 1077 Prospect Lane, Kaukauna, WI 54130. Add $3
postage and handling for the first copy ordered and 75 cents for each
additional copy. New York and North Carolina residents add applicable
sales tax. Please be sure to include your name, address and phone number
and indicate the book you are ordering. Allow 6-8 weeks for delivery.
Better Homes and Gardens New Dieter's Cook Book
Life AdviceTM Program price
Plus $4 shipping and handling. To order this
480-page hardcover edition, send a check or money order to Life
AdviceTM Book Offer, P. O. Box 9394E, Clinton, IA 52736-9394. Make
check payable to Life AdviceTM Book Offer and indicate the book
you are ordering.
American Heart Association Cookbook, 5th Edition
Life AdviceTM Program price $20
Call 1-800-793-2665 to order and mention reference number 032-05.
Price and availability subject to change without notice.
American Heart Association Brand Name Fat and Cholesterol Counter
Times Books $4.99
Your Child's Fitness: Practical Advice for Parents
Plus shipping and handling. To order, call Human
Kinetics, 1-800-747-4457 or write, Human Kinetics, 1607 North Market St.,
P. O. Box 5076, Champaign, IL 61825-5076.
Getting in Shape: Workout Programs for Men and Women
Anderson, Ed Burke and Bill Pearl Shelter Publications, Inc. $15
Hold It! You're Exercising Wrong
Ed J. Jackowski; A
Fireside Book (Simon and Schuster) $9.95
The quarterly Consumer Information Center Catalog lists more than 200
helpful federal publications. For your free copy write Consumer
Information Catalog, Pueblo, CO 81009, call 719-948-4000 or find the
catalog on the Net- http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov
For a copy of the pamphlet Teaching Kids About Money, send $1.00
to the National Center for Financial Education, P.O. Box 34070, San Diego,
RELATED Life Advice PAMPHLETS
See other Life Advice pamphlets on related topics: Becoming a Parent,
Becoming a Grandparent, Choosing a Financial Advisor, Creating a Budget,
Establishing a Trust Fund, Going Away to College and Life Insurance. To
order, call 1-800-METLIFE.
Information provided by NIH.