Archive for February, 2010

Fitness for Healthy Living

It starts with a commitment to healthier living. When you make that commitment you make a decision to change in some way, somehow that you accept the responsibility to transform and believe in your ability to do so. It’s about passion and enjoyment, go back to when you were a kid; you didn’t think about what you had to do today for activity, you just did it. It can still be like that now and really should be.

But if you have not been active for many years, it is difficult to a have fun and enjoy yourself. As an adult what comes into play is commitment and taking that seriously. That is the key! You really have to want it and believe you can make it happen and make that promise to yourself and then make it a priority.

Vigorous exercise involves minimal health risks for persons in good health or those following a doctor’s advice. Far greater risks are present by habitual inactivity and obesity.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or exercising for fitness and mental health, it’s important for everyone to do some level of weightlifting and aerobic exercise. Ultimately you want strength, flexibility and endurance.

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?”

Action precedes motivation. We get caught up thinking that we have to wait for motivation to start doing something good for ourselves, but that is not how it works. You just need to initiate action; even the smallest of actions will facilitate some momentum.

  • Start with bite-sized pieces that you’ll be able to accomplish.  If your goals are too big, you can end up feeling defeated before you get a good start.
  • Schedule it in your day. Pick a time of day and stick to it. You have to make it a priority because it is. I would say this is the biggest obstacle for most of us.
  • Keep it real. Avoid perfectionist thinking and
  • Focus on positive terms; avoid self talk that is negative.
  • Share with a friend. Tell someone you trust about your goals.
  • Make your goals yours. The goals you have set for yourself should be something you really desire. If you don’t have a strong internal motivation you won’t be successful.
  • Tune in to your spirituality. Spend some time outside; nature will help you find balance!

Patience is essential. Don’t to do too much too soon and don’t quit before you have a chance to experience the rewards of improved fitness. You can’t regain in a few days or weeks what you have lost in years of sedentary living, but you can get it back if you persevere. Consistency will result in success. And the prize is worth the price. Fitness for healthy living is about priorities and commitment.

Try not. Do or do not there is no try! —Yoda

The decision to carry out a physical fitness program cannot be taken lightly. It requires a lifelong commitment of time and effort. Exercise must become one of those things that you do without question, like bathing and brushing your teeth. Unless you are convinced of the benefits of fitness and the risks of unfitness, you will not succeed.

Trying is no kind of commitment, to say you are going to “try and do something” is a set up for failure; it’s just like saying “I don’t really think I can do this.”  Don’t give yourself an “out”.  Trying presupposes that you are going to fail. To make a commitment means “I’ll do it”. Commitment is when you go beyond mere hoping, wishing, dreaming, yearning or pining.  Commitment is where you cut off all other options and you make a real decision. The decision is not traced in the sand; it is carved into stone, set into cement. It’s solid. Making a commitment requires courage, but the instant you make a commitment, wonderful and amazing things start to happen.  The moment you commit yourself 100%, you begin to utilize the parts of your mind that most humans never tap into.  You harness the awesome strength of your will. Obstacles evaporate.  All the pieces of the puzzle come together. You experience synchronicity. You set into motion powerful forces

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Will Exercise Make Me Smarter and Happier?

Increasing scientific evidence says “Yes”!

What’s good for your heart and waist line is also good for your mind, and your frame of mind. We all know that working out is great for a wide range of medical reasons including heart disease, diabetes and so on… but did you know it can put you in a good mood? Folks who don’t exercise tend to have a greater chance of getting depressed.  Anti-depressants are handed out these days like candy, and in many cases these patients could have more profound and long term positive results if they just exercised.  The long term impact of drug intervention for depression is questionable.  There have been a number of studies that have evaluated exercise therapy for depression.  These studies have shown long term positive results with additional positive effects on overall health as time goes on.  Drug therapy cannot boast these claims.

You’ve all heard of “the runner’s high”. It’s that euphoria that people experience after prolonged aerobic exercise. This is a real thing! These good feelings are based on the body’s chemistry and how it responds to stimulus. There are neurotransmitters called endorphin and serotonin that are released in the parts of your brain that process emotions. Endorphins and serotonin contribute to making us feel better. So, rather than taking Prozac, a more natural route may just be to exercise more to produce these neurotransmitters.  Depressed people often experience overwhelmingly low levels of energy. They can often lack desire to do anything. This can cause a person to stop exercising which just compounds the effects of depression. The key is to try to get out there for as little as 15 to 30 minutes a day to start the ball rolling in the right direction. You don’t have to be an “athlete” to experience these affects and benefits.

We all know that exercise improves blood circulation throughout the body, which of course includes the brain. Exercise also boosts metabolism, decreases stress and improves mood and ability to focus, all of which help the brain perform better.  Neuro-scientific studies are exploring the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise on anxiety, stress, depression, learning, and aging. The Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health (PCPFS Research Digest, 1996) states “physical activity appears to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve mood” and “regular physical activity may reduce the risk of developing depression.”

Exercise and Alzheimer’s disease – New research is now looking into whether progressive diseases like Alzheimer’s can be slowed by exercise.  The Alzheimer’s Association recently stated “physical exercise is essential for maintaining  good blood flow to the brain as well as to encourage the production of new brain cells, thereby protecting  against those risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.” A mechanism thought to be responsible for this is a part of the brain called the hippocampus. It plays a large role in memory and learning. One study showed that runners have a boost in blood flow to the area of the hippocampus and an increased growth of new brain cells. Because of these exciting findings and obvious implications there are a number of studies going on.   A study from  Annals of Internal Medicine,  one the largest, most definitive studies to date on the relationship between dementia and exercise stated “In fact, just 15 minutes of exercise — such as walking or swimming — three times a week can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia by 30 to 40 percent.”

We can also extend this knowledge to children. Again there is growing research in discovering causes that improve concentration and learning. It appears that performance on standardized testing, grades and other measurements of learning show there is a strong relationship between aerobic exercise and higher achievement.  Not to mention lowering body fat, particularly since teenage obesity is a nationwide epidemic.  According to the report, 14% of adolescents in the United States are overweight. This figure has nearly tripled in the last 20 years.

Well…are you sold?  Remember, you don’t need to do much to get the awesome benefits.  As little as 15 minutes of brisk walking can boost the blood flow through the body. Of course more than that will give you better effects. Exercise can make you smarter and happier in as little as 2 weeks. Feel good and be smarter by bikini season!

As my 82 year old friend Donna says: “I’m a better thinker because I have a better body. I really believe that!”

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