Exercise. Depending on who you are, that word can invoke various thoughts and feelings in your mind and emotions. If you dreaded gym class, you might have feelings of anxiety. If you were a high school athlete, you may or may not feel nostalgia at the thought. Whatever your feelings, exercise is something that we all need in one form or another. We need a certain amount in order to feel healthy, to be healthy. I am not speaking of running marathons or participating in Iron Man triathlons, just activities to keep your body, mind, and spirit humming along.
As a certified group fitness instructor and now a registered nurse, I would like to discuss some
“fitness tips” with you in this article. Don’t get me wrong—I have been struggling with my weight the past few years (since getting older…sigh) despite my almost daily workouts. I do however have blood pressure on the lower end, my triglycerides are low and my HDL (good cholesterol) is on the higher end of normal. Being slim is nice but being healthy is too!
When you decide that you need to become more physically active—and I know that you have read this many times before— you do need to meet with your doctor and get the okay to begin to exercise. Even if you are in your 20s, it is best to have a physical with your health care provider and have your blood pressure, lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides), blood sugar, heart and lungs evaluated. If you do have an underlying, undetected health condition your doctor may want to restrict your activity level or have you meet with a personal trainer or nutritionist first. Better to be safe than sorry!
Next, decide what type of activity you would enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, you are not going to do it. Find something that you will stick with. Walking is one of the best activities that you can do and it is virtually free, you just need a good pair of walking shoes. Swimming is another activity that many people enjoy and most city recreation departments offer a low cost monthly pass. Swimming is also great as it is non-weight bearing and anyone with joint problems can benefit from this. Maybe you have participated in the past in a group sports activity, such as volleyball or basketball. Again, check with your city rec department or ask your friends if any of them would be willing to have a game a couple of times a week. If there are community colleges or universities in your area, many offer community classes at a lower rate and most offer some fitness classes; in the past, I have taught at our local college and had a good response.
If you want to do something a bit more challenging, check with local fitness centers. Many of these facilities will offer a group fitness class or more for free so you can try out a class. Some classes may be strictly for beginners but most instructors will show modifications of moves for beginners, intermediate and advanced participants. You can also ask if a personal trainer is available to perhaps show you around the weight room and see if that appeals to you (weight lifting or resistance training is very beneficial as we do lose muscle mass as we age and these activities can counteract that).
Lastly, if you would prefer to exercise in the comfort of your own home, there are options available for you, too! Exercise DVDs are very popular and don’t have to be expensive. Amazon.com, collagevideo.com, ebay and beachbody.com are some sites with a variety of DVDs. Most will have a preview of the workout online, along with suggested fitness level for a participant. Libraries also often have workouts DVDs and won’t cost you a thing (unless you forget to return it). There are websites that have streaming video workouts as well; grokker.com is one that I have used myself and they do have free videos.
Also, don't forget to have some nutritious foods each day. If you already eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and protein, congratulate yourself! If not, it isn't too late to add those in!
Plenty of water for hydration, too. Adding a bit of lemon to it can actually aid in keeping you well-hydrated!
Take adequate "me time" each day. Whether you take a hot bath, read a good book, take a course, exercise, or just sit quietly and reflect on the day, goals, or blessings, it will help to keep you balanced.
See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? If you are ready and willing, there are just too many options for you to not give a fitness plan a try. At the least, you may experience such side effects as better sleep, increased strength, better health, and a sense of well-being. Thanks for reading!
**Check with your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise program.
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