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Exercise essentials

Individuals need to get 30-60 minutes of exercise most days of the week to stay healthy. It needs to be a combination of cardiovascular and strength training.


Did you know that daily exercise prevents cancer? Colon cancer is just one example of many common cancers that are much less likely to strike a person who gets the recommended daily amount of exercise! Exercising to keep your weight at a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 21 offers the greatest longevity gains. Here is a BMI calculator.

Keeping active also has the well-known outcomes of keeping your slimmer, giving your muscles a toned appearance and improving the amount of your muscle mass, increasing your metabolic level so you burn more calories in a day, and improving your mood due to the release of endorphins (chemicals in the brain that make you feel good).

Ways to exercise

People need to do two types of physical exercise: cardiovascular, and strength training. Cardiovascular exercise includes walking, running, aerobics, and active sports that get your heart rate up. Strength (also called resistance) training involves lifting and moving weighted items to strengthen muscles and sometimes increase their size. Strength training also keeps your bones from losing calcium. You should stretch before and after any type of exercise.

Some people turn to gyms for their exercise needs, but I say: why pay for a gym membership if you donít need to? Here are ways you can squeeze exercise into your day for free:

  • Take a brisk walk outside at lunch for at least 15 minutes of your lunch period, every day
  • Take the stairs at work for a few floors, instead of the elevator.
  • Go for 1, 2, or three 20-minute walks around the neighbourhood every day. Make it a routine, such as something you do every day 30 minutes after dinner.
  • Sign children up for a sport and encourage physically active hobbies like hiking, horseback riding, boating, landscaping/gardening, camping, etc. Habits learned in youth influence adult activity levels.
  • Start taking transit and get off a few stops early so you can walk part of the way
  • Keep a set of dumbbells in a central place at home so you can pick them up and work out for a couple minutes here and there
  • Walk to lunch meetings if they are within a few blocks, and then get a ride back
  • Try some do-it-yourself projects, which are usually quite physical. This will also save you money.

Here are ways to exercise for low cost:

  • Buy a manual treadmill ($200) or an electronic treadmill ($1000 and up) and go on it for two 20 minute sessions most days of the week. It's best to walk outside, but in the deep winter that may not be feasible.
  • You can usually buy used treadmills in near-perfect shape for less. Shop around!
  • Aside from costing less, manual treadmills provide a tougher workout that is more like hiking and uses more muscles. I love mine but be sure to try one first in case itís too difficult.
  • Ensure everyone in the family has a bicycle and get into the habit of using it for small errands.
  • Use a push-reel lawnmower if you have a small lawn, as they require more physical exertion.

By doing most of those free or low-cost suggestions you can easily meet the daily recommended exercise levels. It only takes around a month or two for these activities to become habitual. Stick with it and maintain the walking habits when on vacation so that the habit stays.

Why itís important to stick with it

Although you may have occasional setbacks committing to including exercise in your daily regimen, I canít emphasize enough that it really is the most important change you can make in your life. Make it your priority. It could keep you from dying of cancer or developing diabetes. Some people, if they exercise a lot more and change how they eat, can get off their medications! Maintaining your health is even more important in countries like the USA that do not provide universal health coverage for their citizens. Without your health, you have nothing, or could end up bankrupted from medical bills.

Science has shown that committing to 30-60 minutes of exercise 5 or more days a week is usually more important for your health than dietary changes are. I encourage everyone to get some dumbbells, a treadmill, and a pre-recorded whole-body exercise program at home such as an aerobics, Tíai Chi, or Yoga DVD. Most importantly, keep them in busy location in the home so they are not out of sight and out of mind!

Getting regular exercise Ė 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week - is by far the best thing you can do for your health. After reading my website I hope you will get started immediately. Go out and walk a few blocks around your neighbourhood while enjoying the fresh air.


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