I hear it all the time: I don’t have time to exercise! I know the story; I’ve been there myself. Today, more than ever, people are bogged down with commitments like family, friends, work and errands. The 40-hour work week is now a rarity, and if you live in an urban area your commute can eat up several hours every day. But the reality is that you only have time for what you make time for. And once you commit to making exercise a part of your life, I think you’ll find that it’s easier to fit in than you originally thought.
The new dietary guidelines recommend that you exercise a minimum of 30 minutes every day, but they also assert that 60 minutes is preferable – especially if you have weight to lose. A whole hour a day may seem like a huge chunk of time to allocate to working out; however, you do not have to workout for those 60 minutes at one time. You can spread exercise out over the day in 10 or 20 minute increments. Consider taking a brisk walk first thing in the morning, on your lunch hour and when you get home from work.
Being more physically active helps reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which means less stress on your joints and muscles. Exercise improves endurance, flexibility and balance. But the benefits of physical activity are more than just physical; it also improves emotional health, stress level and it helps you relax.
Starting an exercise program does not mean that you have to start spending all of your free time in the gym. In fact, there are plenty of ways to be physically active at or around your house. The only thing that you need to start exercising is pair of walking shoes. Walking is a great form of exercise that can help you control your weight, increase your energy, tone your muscles and increase your metabolism.
You can walk outside in your neighborhood or at a local track. You can also walk in the shopping mall if it’s too hot or cold to exercise outside. In fact, many malls open early to accommodate people who want to walk in doors, check yours to see if they have mall walker hours.
Many gyms and community centers have reasonable membership rates. But if you are uncomfortable or unable to workout in a gym, you can still do strength training exercises on your own. You can purchase weights or resistance bands from your local sporting goods store or simply use household items. For example, soup cans, can be used in place of dumbbells.
You can also turn your daily errands into a workout. Park at the far end of the parking lot and take an extra lap around the grocery store or mall before leaving. If you are running errands at a strip mall – don’t move your car every time you need to go to another store… walk. Other ways to be more physically active include raking leaves, washing your car, mowing the lawn and gardening.
If you watch TV in the evening, don’t just sit there – use that time to exercise while you watch. One of the most obvious ways is to invest in a piece of exercise equipment such as a treadmill or an elliptical machine. But you can also do lunges, squats and jog in place while watching the television. Instead of flipping channels during the commercial break, try running up and down the stairs.
It’s also easy to get exercise while you’re spending time with your family. In fact, you can use that time together to encourage the whole family to be more physically active. Play a family game kickball, softball or tag football. Or visit amusement parks, museums and zoos, which require walking.
All you need to incorporate more physical activity into your life is a little innovation and creativity. The hardest part is getting up and getting started, but once you do, the benefits you will enjoy will have you wondering why it took you so long to get started.
Remember that even though exercise has many health benefits, if you are a man over the age of 40 or a woman over 50 you should speak with your physician before beginning a workout program. You should also consult your physician if you have a chronic health problem such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity or osteoporosis.
Published On: September 19, 2006