Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fitness for Families

Barriers The cooler months and holiday stresses can be a challenge for maintaining physical activity for good health. Some of the barriers include:
  • shorter hours of daylight
  • inclement weather (cold, snow, ice, wind)
  • more hectic schedules with holiday tasks
  • dislike of traditional exercise
  • tight budgets
Benefits The benefits of staying physically fit are many---greater strength, more energy, better sleep, stress relief, weight management and the high of the endorphins. These make it worth your while to find solutions that work for you and your family.

Solutions Here are some strategies that might work to help you maximize the benefits and minimize the obstacles.

Lack of time:
  1. Increase the intensity and burn the same number of calories in less time. Walking 4 miles an hour versus 2 miles an hour, riding an exercise bike at a faster pace or with more resistance, or dancing to a faster beat will all work. Be sure to work up to greater intensity very gradually and only do what is exercise at a pace that is approved by your physician.
  2. Divide activity into three 10-minute segments rather than one 30-minute period. It is easier to fit in your schedule---10 minutes before work, walk at lunch, activity in the evening. Even doing activity during an hour TV show can give you 15 minutes worth!
  3. Incorporate your activity into your daily lifestyle. Climbing the stairs, housecleaning for the holidays, shoveling snow, taking the baby for a walk can all increase fitness while accomplishing tasks. 
Weather woes; shorter daylight:
  1. Use exercise videos or DVDs. Seniors might really enjoy Richard Simmon’s “Sweating to the Oldies”. Those with medical conditions that make it difficult to do be on their feet can get “Chair Dancing” by Jodi Stove or activity while sitting. It is amazing much of a workout you can achieve this way. Many times you can purchase these at flea markets for a dollar or two.
  2. Keep a basket of hand and ankle weights and stretch bands in the family room. It is so easy to pick them up and do stretching and strength training while watching your favorite show. What might seem like a drudgery exercise routine is accomplished with ease.
  3. Listen to music or a talk show, or read a book while pedaling an exercise bike, walking a treadmill, or using other exercise equipment. These items are frequently available second-hand at a low cost.
  4. Take advantage of the winter weather by taking a stroll through the snow, participating in downhill or cross-country skiing, taking the kids sledding or getting your exercise by shoveling snow (don’t overdo it and use caution if you have any medical conditions that might be affected).
Tight budgets:
  1. Ask for items you can use for physical activity for holiday or birthday gifts. Also give loved ones, including children, gifts that help them stay active. The whole family can enjoy the new video games that involve dancing and virtual sports. You can also give or receive exercise equipment or a membership to a fitness club or YMCA. Less expensive items include exercise tapes, CDs , weights or stretch bands.
  2. Walking is always free and you can do it indoors at the mall, supermarket or discount store. Take a few extra laps around the perimeter, or go up and down all the aisles.
  3. The lifestyle activities listed above do not require extra spending. Think of the money you save on medical bills by staying healthier!
As you can see there are a variety of ways to stay fit. Everyone can find something they like to do that fits their budget, interests and lifestyle. Make your plan today to maintain a healthy level of physical activity year round.

What strategies have worked well for you? Leave a comment.

1 comment:

Sherry Crum said...

I love the Leslie Sansone walk videos for indoor exercise.