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Fitting Fitness into Your Busy ScheduleBy: Deborah Mullen
Do you know about the benefits of exercise and the risks of inactivity, yet still find it difficult to incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle? If so, you are not alone. Most people have good intentions, but don't seem to find the time, or inclination to exercise. This article is written for you. When you are finished reading it, I hope that you will have found a few tips that you can use, and a way to help you to actually do them.
Which do you find more appealing: a) a two-minute drive with long stoplights, heavy traffic and a search for a parking space or b) a ten minute walk where you get to be outdoors and get a chance to slow down and take notice of things? I'm hoping that you preferred the second, otherwise you need more help than I can give you.
Why do we use our cars for such short trips? If safety isn't a concern, then probably it's just force of habit. Really, now, an extra ten minutes won't collapse your day's schedule. Think of the saving in wear and tear on your car--your starter motor will thank you. You know that the walk will do wonders for de-stressing you, so next time you hear that nasty little voice urging you to turn the key and hit the gas pedal--just lock the doors and hoof it!
If you do have to drive around to do errands, make sure to park in the farthest space in the parking lot. This forces you to get an extra few minutes in--remember it all adds up! You also will save a lot of dings and scratches to your car this way.
At work, why don't you try hand-delivering messages instead of picking up the phone? It's a great way to limber up muscles that have gotten stiff from sitting too long. Also, the recipient of your message would probably appreciate talking with you in person.
The simplest way to increase your physical activity at work is...if there is an elevator, don't use it! If your office is higher than the fifth floor, you are allowed to take the elevator--but only to the floor that is 3-5 floors below yours! Accept the fact that people will give you odd stares. Oh, well. They are concerned with convenience, while you are concerned with staying healthy.
Bring your walking shoes and turn your coffee break into a "stress-reduction and revitalization break". It really isn't that hard to do. Remember, this isn't a cardio workout--you won't get sweaty and have to change your clothes if you walk at a moderate pace for ten minutes. It's best to keep your shoes at work. Every Monday bring five pairs of socks to work and on Friday bring them home. Try to come up with a few different walks. Assess how your body and your mind feel before and after your walk. The benefits will spur you on to continue the habit.
Modern technology has taken the physical activity out of chores. I'm sure that you're happy not to have to mow the grass with a push mower or to use a washboard for clothes. That's o.k. But you need to replace that lost physical activity with something else. When watching television, use commercial breaks to climb the stairs five times. Take "physical breaks" from the desk or computer to tone your muscles for five minutes with some easy strength-training exercises. With a little creativity, you can think of some ways to combat being a high-tech slug and move around more!
In order for you to actually incorporate any of these ideas, you must first change your attitude about them. If the "little voice" in your head automatically dismisses a potentially good one for you, remember not to listen. Usually it's a feeble excuse to keep things as they are.
"Not enough time" is the primary excuse for remaining inactive. You Do Have Time! Five or ten minutes isn't going to effect anything. If it is, you are in serious need of some time management consulting. "Too tired" is the second most common excuse. Sitting all day will make you feel tired and sluggish. A little physical activity will blast oxygen to your brain and muscles, thus revitalizing you. Also, it is one of the best ways to combat excessive stress and anxiety--our bodies were designed to use physical activity as a response to stress (fight or flight).
For any of the other excuses you come up with, just remember, they are only that. Acknowledge them for what they are-and do it anyway. Think of how important it is to your health that you add this crucial physical activity into your lifestyle.
Think Physical Activity, Not Exercise Do you find yourself making excuses for not exercising? Here are some tips to make it a more enjoyable experience. Do you find that you say to yourself "I hate to exercise"? That's o.k. Many (or most) sedentary people feel this way. If that's the way you feel then don't exercise. All you really are trying to do is increase your physical activity. You must change your attitude if you are to succeed. Don't think exercise, think physical activity. And when you think of physical activity, think of a fun recreational activity that just happens to include moving your body.
Walking is the easiest and most popular way to increase your physical activity. If you think walking would be something you might want to do more of, but haven't got around to it on a consistent basis, you need to think of ways to make it fun. I'm going to throw a phrase at you that I will use again in this article: If it's Not Fun, it's Not Done.
Find an interest of yours that could be taken into the walk. How about strolling through the neighborhood to check out the gardens? Or who got a new car? Or what houses are being refurbished? I'm sure you can think of something. Remember to tell yourself this is the reason for the walk. Are there birds you would like to know the names of? Buy a bird guide and use that to identify the ones you see on the walk. Keep track of how many different species you see.
Who says you have to move the same way throughout the walk? I don't know about you, but I find that walking the same way all the time isn't very fun. For variety, I like to do intervals of something different: walk faster (by taking shorter, quicker steps), walking sideways, (right foot behind left, left, right in front of left--then face the other way and left behind right, etc.) and walking backwards (hey, it's great for the front of the thigh and for improving balance). My 71 year old mom, when first attempting backwards walking, thought it was a little strange. Now she does it at the end of each walk--and gets a kick out of the looks she receives!
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