Health Lifestyle – Chapter 4


 It seems that almost every month we hear about a new scientific study touting the health benefits of exercise.  Some health researchers have even called exercise the elusive fountain of youth.  The benefits of exercise are enormous and variable and include reduction of blood pressure, blood sugar, weight and improving the health of heart, lungs, glands and other organ systems.  It is also a very effective way of reducing stress, depression and anxiety. Exercise raises our resiliency to stress.  Physically fit individuals have found to mount a milder fight-flight response to stress than unfit individuals.  It has been found that during exercise powerful natural chemicals, called endorphins, are produced which elicit a feeling of wellbeing and euphoria.  These endorphins have a calming relaxation effect on the mind and body which help us cope with stress more effectively.  Here are some pointers on developing healthy exercise habits.

Healthy Exercise Habits:

  • Notice your thoughts and feelings, including any resistance you might have, regarding exercise.  Notice if they change as you start exercising during and after exercise.
  • Get a physical check-up first and consult with your doctor before embarking on an exercise program.
  • Exercising under the guidance of a qualified trainer can have many benefits and reduce your exercise related injuries.
  • Before and after exercise always warm up and cool down and drink plenty of fluids, especially during the hot season. Do not exercise if you are dehydrated, sick or after a large meal.
  • Start slowly and increase your exercise time and effort gradually.  You will be more successful with a steadier pace.  Set specific realistic goals and follow them.
  •  Monitor your success and get an exercise buddy to help. Visualize success frequently and give yourself a small reward afterwards.
  • Make a realistic exercise schedule and stick with it.  Some people do better if they exercise in the morning and some in the evening.  You may also, if you wish, split your exercise time to twice or three times a day instead of exercising all at once.
  • You will reap a lot more health benefits if you spread your exercise schedule during the week exercising 5-6 days a week instead of just over the weekend.
  • Use comfortable shoes with good support and appropriate clothing and any recommended equipment that offers you the needed protection from the elements.
  • Exercise within your target heart rate.  If you do not exercise regularly,  try to aim for your lower targeted heart rate as you start and gradually increase this number until you achieve the higher end of your target.  Do not exceed your age appropriate maximum heart rate.
  • Follow your exercise routine with an aerobic exercise achieving your targeted heart rate.  Pick a few aerobic exercises that you like, such as swimming, dancing, running, walking, bicycling, sports, martial arts, etc., and alternate your workout routine during the week as to allow for training of all muscle groups.   Your body may respond better to low impact exercises.  Yoga and tai chi are two excellent ways of low impact exercise.
  • Three days a week, every other day, start weight lifting exercises in order to firm up and strengthen your muscles.  Pay special attention to the upper body, the torso, back and abdominal muscles.  To get the most out of your time and to minimize any injuries, I recommend that you get the help of an experienced trainer.  There are books and videos for your reference, as well.
  • Any amount of increase in daily activity counts.  Whenever possible stand instead of sitting, walk instead of standing, climb stairs instead of using an elevator and park your car a little farther and walk the rest of the way to your destination.


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