Exercise—Just Do It

May 24th, 2014

You knew it was coming right? Late only because it is the 5th letter of the alphabet. In order of importance for successful aging exercise is numero uno.

[Note: Before beginning any exercise routine check with your doctor.]

Since the days of Ponce deLeon (circa 16th century) people have been looking for the “fountain of youth”. Today we might call it the magic bullet. It does not exist (at least as of 2014). The closest we might come to that fountain or bullet that would change the way we age for the better is EXERCISE.

I am not talking about climbing Mt. Everest or running the Boston marathon. I am simply talking about moving your body at a pace that raises your heart rate for thirty minutes three to five times a week.

If that sounds intimidating, try parking at the far end of the parking lot – please note photo. This parking space is at the far corner of the Wegman’s (a Rochester based, award winning grocery chain) parking lot in Pittsford, NY. I love the sign (of course the spot is most often empty). I park at that end of the lot. I get an extra 500 steps just walking to the store. This works at the Mall or a movie theater or anywhere. Just do it.

I wear a pedometer. It hooks on to my jeans and at night connects to my computer. I aim for 10,000 steps a day. Sometimes I don’t make it, but very often I reach or even exceed it, especially when I am here at the beach. It works out to about five miles per day of walking. It is nearly impossible to reach this goal unless I get in my two mile walk.

Who came up with 10,000 steps? Most researchers credit a Japanese pedometer manufacturer – go figure. But most health experts believe that this is a goal to reach for in terms of health and longevity. Most sedentary people will move somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000 steps per day.

You don’t need to walk 10,000 steps on day one. Aiming for 10,000 steps on day one to bump up your metabolism would be discouraging and counterproductive. Wear a pedometer (available at most Big Box stores) and check your daily steps (from the time you get up until you go to bed). Do this for a few consecutive days and see where you rank in number of steps. Then set a goal for increasing the number by 300 steps per day. When you reach that goal, aim for an additional 300 steps and so on. Keep working at it, until you reach your desired numbers. Just do it.

Walking speed needs to increase as well as number of steps. Strolling is better than sitting on the couch eating Fritos but you need to walk faster to raise your heart rate.

Walking requires no gym membership, or special equipment – except a good pair of walking sneakers. Walking is an easy way to begin to exercise for a healthier life.

Once you get to a point where walking makes you want to do more, then you may want to check your local continuing education catalogue and venture into activities such as:

  • Water aerobics
  • Cycling – either stationary bike or regular bike outdoors
  • Yoga – will keep you flexible
  • Tai Chi – great for balance
  • Line dancing – just look for classes – it’s fun and a brain workout bonus

I walk nearly every day, but I wanted to do more. I recently joined L.A. Fitness and feel better than I have in years. I love the Water Aerobics classes. I come out of the pool feeling energized. I use some of the equipment and the stationary bike and take the Yoga class. I am becoming a “gym junkie”. Studies have shown that there is a natural “high” that comes from making your body work and you want to feel that “good feeling” more often.

The benefits that come from exercise include, but are not limited to:

  • Boosting metabolism
  • Feeling better in mind/body/spirit
  • Helping to relieve stress
  • Increasing oxygen rich blood to body and brain
  • Toning muscles
  • Increasing flexibility
  • Increasing balance
  • Loss of weight and/or inches
  • Reducing the risk of many diseases (again, check with your doc)
  • Increasing the production of “endorphins” - feel good chemicals produced in your body

I can’t say it emphatically enough – exercise is good for your mind/body/spirit.

Thinking ministry—Keeping your body fit has a scriptural basis. Check out 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Think about hosting an exercise or chair exercise class in your church. Start a walking club and discuss the sermon topic as you walk. Think creative.

It doesn’t matter what you choose to do, just do it.

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