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Investing in lifestyle is a good start
Let’s start off today by thinking about your lifestyle, particularly about how physically active you are on a daily basis.
Don’t think about formal exercise sessions, where you have to plan ahead the night before and pack a gym bag, travel to an exercise class, pay money, get changed, do the class, shower, get back into your normal clothes, travel back home or to work, wash your exercise clothes, and then do it all again two days later.
When you’re a kid, you don’t need huge amounts of extra exercise sessions, as your lifestyle is already active. You have to walk to and from school or to the bus stop, there are regular activity sessions as part of your school week, you have time to get involved in sports or just muck around with your mates after school.
If you want to go somewhere on the weekend, you have to walk, ride your bike, or try to convince your mum to drive you (you’d never dare ask dad). And in the school holidays, you’ve got weeks and weeks of time to walk, ride, and muck around being active and healthy all day long. Your mum thinks carefully about keeping you on a good and healthy diet.
When you get to be about 16, puberty is over and you have to deal with a whole new recreated body. This body feels clumsy and awkward and a lot of teenagers feel so gawky they drop all forms of physical activity. It’s sad because they never get the chance to learn the elation of being in harmony with their bodies.
When the teenagers get to 17, the bike is put away in the shed, and from here on in the young adult drives everywhere. When they leave school, all forms of sport and exercise are lost. Suddenly, they have money to spend on convenience foods. They have become a typical sedentary adult – unfit, prone to injury and illness – a Norm.
Now just stop for a moment, and take some time to look at all the possibilities for getting extra physical activity back into your day-to-day life. Think about making it a part of your life, like eating or sleeping.
If you can create a more active lifestyle, you’ve started to lay the base for a long and healthy life.
How about parking your car 250m further from your office, and walking an extra 500m every day, or 2.5km a week, or 120km a year, or using the stairs instead of the lift, as going upstairs is about twice as hard as walking on level ground?
Or how about just taking pleasure in spending half an hour walking to and from the shops to get a carton of milk and some bread, instead of rushing up and back in your car so you can get back home and plop yourself in front of the TV.
All these things are basic lifestyle changes and will have just as much effect on your fitness, health, and weight as attending three or four exercise classes every week. Their main benefit is they take no time out of your busy life, but add significantly to the quality of your physical and mental health.
Harden your body: you can make a difference to your quality of life by making a firm commitment to a more active life, but there should be more to your life than staying at a basic minimum level of fitness.
These lifestyle changes will not put any stress or strain on your body. Stress is the minimum amount of exercise needed to make your energy systems make some adaptations, and strain is the pressure on the connective tissues of your body (ligaments, tendons, fascia, bones).
You need something more intense than lifestyle changes to provide a beneficial stress on your energy systems and strain on your body.
Regular stress and strain will give you the fitness to cope with unusual high intensities of activity such as moving the furniture around, chopping firewood, going for a row or a surf when you’re down the coast, or just carrying a heavy bag out to the car and putting it in the boot.
The definition of fitness is the ability to be free from injury and illness, able to work, recover from that work, and come back and do more work. Fitness is also relative – a fitter individual is healthier, can work more, recovers quicker, and will go back and do it all again.
If you exercise regularly (three to six times a week), you’ll have the fitness to be able to get out there and revel in all the challenges that life has to offer – day after day and year after year. Without regular exercise, you’ll fail when it comes time to doing a bit of extra physical work, you’ll more than likely break some part of your body, and you’ll take years to recover.
Check out your health: if you have decided to start on an exercise program at home, then you need to have a good honest look at yourself before you do anything. It may be years since you put any stress or strain on your body, and if this is the case your body will have softened up.
Do you have any injuries? If you have ever injured yourself, you should visit a sports doctor or a physiotherapist to find out exactly what movements may aggravate that injury. Be honest with yourself – do you ever have sore ankles, sore knees, sore hips, a sore back, a sore shoulder, or a sore neck?
Do you have any recurrent illness, or are you on any medication? Visit your doctor to find out how these may affect an exercise program. They should never stop you from being more active, but there might be some particular combinations of intensity and types of exercise that should be avoided.
Try and make just one small change to a more active lifestyle this week, and visit a doctor for a medical checkup before you startle your body with an increase in physical activity.
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The Founder of Life Tips