Exercise ... don’t put it off

Of all the items on your to-do list, exercise can be one of the first things to be put off.  Although it’s easy to make excuses, being active is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.  Among its many health benefits, exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk of serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

 Getting past those excuses may be tough, but it can be done.  The following are some common roadblocks to exercise, and I have some suggestions that may help you overcome them.

 “I don’t have the time or energy to work out.”  Most health experts recommend that you get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week.  If it seems nearly impossible to fit a 30-minute exercise session into your day, short bouts of activity may be more manageable and less tiring.  Try breaking your workout into smaller chunks of time.  For example, take three ten-minute walks every day.  Shorter, more frequent bouts of exercise can be just as good for you as a longer workout.

 “Exercise is boring.”  To keep from getting bored, make fitness fun.  Try these ideas.  Choose an activity that you enjoy, such as swimming or gardening.  Work out with a friend.  Having someone to talk to can help make exercise less tedious.  Read, listen to music or a book on tape or watch television while you walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike.

 “I’m afraid I’ll hurt myself.”  To avoid injury warm up before every workout with some light stretching or brisk walking.  This can help make your muscle and joints more flexible.  On the subject of warming up, I’ll go into more details in this column next week.

 Taking a class taught by a certified fitness instructor who can show you how to move properly can significantly lower your risk for injury.  I’m a believer in listening to your body — but you do need to be careful here.  Exercise will cause your muscles to be a little sore, especially if you have taken a hiatus.  Don’t overreact or you’ll never get past the first few attempts.

 However, stop exercising if the pain is persistent or if you feel dizzy, faint or nauseated.  The latter two conditions can sometimes be brought on if you exercise on an empty stomach.  A small healthy snack before exercise is a good habit to develop.

 If you haven’t been active for awhile or have a chronic health condition, be sure to check with your doctor before you begin a vigorous exercise program.

 “I can’t stick with it.”  When you need extra motivation pick a goal and decide on a reward for when you reach it.  Remind yourself of what you’ll gain from being more active, such as better sleep, an improved mood, more energy and a stronger, healthier body.

 Never put your health at risk from dangerous side effects of appetite-blocking pills and off-the-wall weight loss programs when you can safely reverse obesity by working on your type and quantity of food intake and physical activity.

 Last week I mentioned that the recreation center is adding spin classes to our program offering.  Here’s the skinny:  Tuesday and Thursday 6-7 a.m. and 5:30-6:30 p.m., Saturday 9:30-10:30 a.m.  As we are limited to just five students per class, please call Brent and Ja Nae Christians (759-6844), the instructors, before you show up.  Over time we’ll get a better feel for the level of demand for these classes and add sessions as needed.