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Fitness And Exercise
This Life Advice pamphlet about Fitness and Exercise was produced by
Today, there is a growing emphasis on looking good, feeling good and living longer. Increasingly, scientific evidence tells us that one of the keys to achieving these ideals is fitness and exercise. But if you spend your days at a sedentary job and pass your evenings as a "couch potato," it may require some determination and commitment to make regular activity a part of your daily routine.
Equal Opportunity Benefits
Exercise is not just for Olympic hopefuls or supermodels. In fact, you're never too unfit, too young or too old to get started. Regardless of your age, gender or role in life, you can benefit from regular physical activity. If you're committed, exercise in combination with a sensible diet can help provide an overall sense of well-being and can even help prevent chronic illness, disability and premature death. Some of the benefits of increased activity are:
Improved Sense of Well-Being
Enhanced Social Life
Mind Over Immobility
Getting moving is a challenge because today physical activity is less a part of our daily lives. There are fewer jobs that require physical exertion. We've become a mechanically mobile society, relying on machines rather than muscle to get around. In addition, we've become a nation of observers with more people (including children) spending their leisure time pursuing just that—leisure. Consequently, statistics show that obesity and the problems that come with it (high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, etc.) are on the rise. But statistics also show that preventive medicine pays off, so don't wait until your doctor gives you an ultimatum. Take the initiative to get active now.
The Fitness Formula
If you're interested in improving your overall conditioning, health experts recommend that you should get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity on all or most days of the week. Examples of moderate activity include brisk walking, cycling, swimming or doing home repairs or yard work. If you can't get in 30 minutes all at once, aim for shorter bouts of activity (at least 10 minutes) that add up to a half hour per day.
Instead of thinking in terms of a specific exercise program, work toward permanently changing your lifestyle to incorporate more activity. Don't forget that muscles used in any activity, any time of day, contribute to fitness. Try working in a little more movement with these extras:
If you're ready to move up to more vigorous activity, remember that "no pain, no gain" isn't exactly true. The best-laid plans of many a fitness program have been ruined by too much enthusiasm on the first day and sore muscles on the second. A goal is an end point, not a beginning, so work toward your goal gradually. Once you're in better shape, you can gradually increase your time or distance or change to a more energetic activity.
If you have cardiovascular disease, you should check with your physician before undertaking more vigorous activity. Likewise, if you're a man over 40 or a woman over 50 with risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or obesity, seek your doctor's advice.
The key to a lifetime of fitness is consistency. Here are some tips to help you make exercise a habit.
It's a good idea to choose more than one type of exercise to give your body a thorough workout and to prevent boredom. Also, you might want to choose one indoor exercise and one outdoor activity to allow for changes in your schedule or for inclement weather. Very few people live in a climate that's temperate year–round. But weather extremes don't have to interfere with your exercise routine if you make some minor adjustments.
When it's Hot or Humid:
When it's Cold:
Diet and Action - the Fitness Combo
Did you know you need to burn off 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose just one pound? If you're overweight, eating your usual amount of calories while increasing activity is good for you, but eating fewer calories and being more active is even better. The following chart gives you an idea of the calories used per hour in common activities. Calories burned vary in proportion to body weight, however, so these figures are averages.
Before making any major dietary changes, you should check with your doctor. But there are plenty of small changes you can make on your own, such as avoiding sweets and salty foods and cutting down on fat in your diet, especially saturated fat.
No More Excuses
You can probably come up with plenty of excuses for why you're not more active. You're too young, you're too old, you're too busy, you're too tired or you're in pretty good shape — for your age. But with few exceptions, these excuses are pretty flimsy. There are activities for the young and old and for those with little time. So the next time you think about getting fit, don't ask "Who has time?" Instead, ask yourself "Who doesn't want to feel better?"
American Heart Association Cookbook, 5th Edition
American Heart Association Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol
Your Child's Fitness: Practical Advice for Parents
Getting in Shape: Workout Programs for Men and Women
Hold It! You're Exercising Wrong: Your Prescription for First-Class Fitness - Fast
Check out these sites for facts about the human body and the latest trends in nutrition, health, aerobics and much much more.
American Heart Association
National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity
Surgeon General's Fact Sheets
Austin Nutritional Research
This pamphlet, as well as any recommeded reading and reference materials mentioned, is for general informational purposes only. It is issued as a public service and is not a substitute for obtaining professional advice from a qualified person, firm or corporation. Consult the appropriate professional advisor for more complete and up-to-the-minute information.
Text may be reproduced for nonprofit educational purposes only. Reproduction of any graphical image, trademark or servicemark is prohibited.
Copyright 1996 Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
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