Kick Off the New Year with More Activity

By Dr. Kristin Allison

Many people dread the word exercise. So, to alleviate the dread, lets think of exercise as more movement. Any physical activity is encouraged; such as parking the car further away and taking stairs. Consider household chores, yard work, and errands as ways to keep you moving.

Find ways to increase your daily activity level by standing and incorporating gentle stretching. Some people may be limited to chair or arm exercises in the beginning. Water activities are easier on the joints. Walking is low impact, requiring only a pair of walking sneakers and can be done anywhere. If you are new to exercise, start slow. You should also check with your doctor about what activity is best for you. As you lose weight, you will likely have less pain or shortness of breath, and in time build up your endurance. You can add on an additional five minutes as tolerated until you reach your goal.

The best combination of activity is cardiovascular training, strength training, and flexibility exercises. Cardiovascular activity includes walking, biking, swimming, or anything that increases your heart rate. Strength training includes weight lifting as well as resistance training you can do with your own body weight (ex. pushups, sit-ups, lunges). Flexibility exercises include yoga, stretching, Pilates and ballet. A balanced fitness program with these types of exercises will burn calories, increase your metabolism, build muscle, which burns more calories at rest, and help with toning.

There are many other benefits of exercise, both physical and mental. Exercise can help raise your good cholesterol, decrease blood pressure and heart disease, and is important for strong bones and joints. Exercise reduces stress and releases endorphins or “feel good chemicals” which have a positive effect on your mood.

The key to any exercise routine is to find activities you enjoy. Plan the time of day that works best for you and make an “appointment” with yourself, or perhaps join with friends or a group. Keeping an activity journal shows your progress, which can help you stay on track for the rest of the day, and motivate you throughout the upcoming year. Here’s to a healthy and more active 2016!

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