Although there are no guaranteed recipes for good health, the mixture of healthy eating and regular exercise comes very close.
Regular physical activity is a key ingredient for maintaining and losing weight. It also helps to reduce stress levels while keeping you supple and agile into old age.
Exercise helps many of the body's systems to function better and keeps a host of diseases at bay, such as heart disease and its precursors (high blood pressure and high cholesterol), osteoporosis, certain cancers (including colon and breast), and adult-onset diabetes.
Exercise also helps to control arthritis and the pain associated with the condition, reduces the risk of falling among older adults, relieves depression and anxiety symptoms, and improves the overall mood. You should get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical exercise most days of the week. You can do the full 30 minutes in one session or break it up into 10 or 15 minute periods.
Tips for getting exercise into your life
- Get off the bus or subway a stop or two earlier on your commute and walk the rest of the way.
- Park your car a little further from your destination. It may not seem like much, but these minutes of exercise add up over the weeks and months.
- Use the stairs instead of elevators and escalators whenever possible.
- Buy a piece of cardiovascular equipment for your home (e.g. treadmill, bike, elliptical machine). Home models can be more affordable than you think and you cannot beat the convenience.
- When you get busy, try to combine your cardiovascular exercise with something that you do already. Hop on that piece of home equipment while watching TV, reading the newspaper or returning phone calls.
- Make it fun; try a new sport like tennis or roller-blading. The more you enjoy exercise, the more likely you are to stick to it.
- Make it social, walk with a friend, your spouse or your family in the morning or evening.
- Keep an exercise log; it will help to make you more accountable.
- Take a walk for 20 minutes of your lunch hour.
Hire a personal trainer for a session or two to help with your weight and flexibility training. Then you will have the confidence to branch out on your own.