Fitness for Life

Being healthy and fit is a goal many strive for, especially at New Year's. Many want to eliminate bad habits and develop a whole new set of good habits to replace them. Spending a fortune on a personal trainer is not a necessary part of becoming fit and healthy if you can motivate yourself on a daily basis.

First Steps for Physical Fitness

Starting a fitness program means making an honest evaluation of what condition you are in. This may require a doctor's visit and same basic tests such as blood pressure, cholesterol and lung capacity if you have not been physically active for a while.
  • Get on a scale---your weight is a big indicator not only of dietary changes you will want to make, but is also important in determining the type and amount of exercise you should begin with.
  • Make dietary changes---Healthy weight loss is key. The truth is, the majority of Americans are overweight. A healthy diet is important even for those who are not overweight.
  • Get motivated---Motivation to begin and motivation to maintain improvements in your fitness are important factors. Recruit friends and family as cheerleaders and workout buddies.
  • Develop a plan---Make sure that the activities that you choose are things which will keep you interested. If you hate running but love to dance then sign up for dance classes rather than buying running shoes.

Fitness Basics for a Healthy Lifestyle

In any endeavor starting with the basics and consistently focusing on them will help in your success. Calculate your BMI with the National Institute of Health's calculator. This will tell you where your weight should be for health purposes. Weigh yourself weekly and calculate your BMI, always remembering that as you exercise more you will build more muscle and reduce the amount of fat on your body. Why is this important? Because hitting weight plateaus can be very demotivating for people. The fact is that many times a weight plateau is an indication that you are gaining muscle mass, which is healthy. Muscle is denser than fat so as exercise programs progress your weight may be stuck but you will actually still be losing inches. Further benefit is that muscle burns a lot more calories than fat, so the more muscle you have built as a result of your exercise program the more calories you will burn.
For both health and weight loss cardiovascular exercise is necessary. It will increase your lung capacity, lower your resting heart rate and lower your breathing rate. This makes your body work less to perform the same functions as a person who is not healthy. Healthy weight loss becomes easier with regular exercise, your metabolic rate will increase and so will the production of endorphins that elevate your mood and increase you motivation.
The National Institutes of Health website has a wealth of accurate information on everything related to your health that is available to the US Department of Health and Human Services and is a valuable tool to use when you have any health related question.

Balance and Moderation in your Workout

Ideally your workout program will contain components of both cardio and weight bearing exercise. The cardio portion will facilitate weight loss and heart and lung health and weight bearing exercise will build muscle strength and mass and contribute to the maintenance of bone density.
Regularity and consistency will also make you healthier more quickly. It is much more beneficial to your body to walk 30 minutes six days a week than it is to go to the gym for three hours once a week even though it is the same amount of time spent exercising. If your goal is to get fit and stay fit for life then you want to integrate healthy choices into your daily life.
Begin and end any exercise you do with stretching. This not only increases your flexibility, but it also reduces the chances of any injuries. You will be amazed how quickly you will be touching your toes if you stretch for just a few minutes twice a day.

Remember, Habits Reinforce Themselves
This fact will become increasingly obvious with every positive change you make for your health. The choice to have cereal, yogurt and fruit for breakfast; taking the three flights of stairs rather than the elevator; walking a half mile instead of taking the car. All these become second nature with time and your health and fitness increase with less and less effort.
The dietary changes you make will not only increase your health and decrease your weight, but they will aid in elevating your mood as well. The same is true of your exercise plan, and you can gradually add new and more fun activities as you become more and more fit. The salsa class that was too tiring in January becomes a welcome treat with all the new found energy you have in June.