By By Lynne Bailey and Hester B. Golden
Exercise is the most natural form of health care. As
human beings, we are built to move. Our body's design seems
to dictate a need to walk or run for long distances. Because
of this design, no other mammal can match our endurance
With consistent exercise, we can increase our stamina
and improve our health dramatically. Studies have shown
that exercise can raise our I.Q., prevent illness and even
reverse some diseases.
Here are some known exercise benefits:
* Stretching exercises are the best prevention and
treatment for low-back pain and runners cramps. Stretching
will even eliminate some cramps and knee problems.
* Long walks alleviate leg circulation problems
and benefits the entire vascular and the cardiovascular
* Exercise tones all the muscles - your heart too.
* Exercise strengthens your immune system.
* Exercise builds stamina.
* Exercise puts a bounce in your step and a
sparkle in your eyes!
* Stretches for the pelvic area will greatly
relieve and sometimes eliminate menstrual cramps. (Editor's
note: yoga is excellent for gaining relief and hormonal and
* Range of motion exercises will prevent areas
affected with arthritis and bursitis from locking up.
* Exercise will help relieve hay fever and some
other allergy symptoms.
* The exercise involved in playing a wind
instrument can help an asthmatic child.
* Emphysema can be helped by stationary cycling.
* Exercise helps you to relax more during the day
and to sleep better at night.
* Exercise helps you to lose and then maintain
desired weight by burning off fat, balancing your
metabolism and decreasing your appetite.
* Exercise can enhance your self-image and sense
* According to recent research, exercise greatly
increases the possibility of living a longer, happier,
higher quality life!
Also, a growing body of evidence shows that exercise,
coupled with a diet high in vitamins, trace minerals,
complex carbohydrates, and lower in fat are essential for
optimal health. So, if you want to look better and feel
better - EXERCISE!
"How do I start?" SLOWLY - start by doing some simple
stretches. Make up your own or rent or buy a video. There
are many exercise videos on the market. There's a variety
of styles and levels; making it easy to find what you need.
Richard Simmons has a "Sweatin' to the Oldies" video that's
a lot of fun. There are a lot of work-out videos to choose
from. This may be the very thing you need to motivate you!
Fitness experts agree that it's best to do aerobic exer-
cise at least three times a week at 60 to 80 percent of your
target heart rate. Here's an easy way to determine this
heart rate from Robert Hackman, Ph.D, University of Oregon,
an exercise, diet specialist:
1. Before getting up in the morning, measure your
pulse rate for one minute to determine your
resting heart rate.
2. For your maximum heart rate, subtract your age
3. For your adjusted heart rate, subtract your
resting heart rate from your maximum heart
4. To get your exercise addition, multiply your
adjusted heart rate by 0.6 to 0.8.
5. Add this exercise addition to your resting
heart rate to discover your target rate.
You might like to start out at a fitness center. If
this interests you, watch your paper for special, new
membership offers. Before you join one, perhaps you could
go as a guest with a friend to their "center." This is a
great way to look the place over before committing. You may
decide that it's just the thing for you.
How about roller skating? Check out your local roller
rink! It costs less than four dollars for admission and
roller skate rental ("quads" - skates with four wheels) and
a bit more for roller blades. You can also skate outside.
Many sport shops rent roller skates and roller blades. My
husband, Jeff and I have been roller skating for about a
year now. Just a few months ago, Jeff was clutching onto the
rails and now he's doing spins and jumps! It was funny to
see the look on his face before he went into the rink for
the first time. I thought he was going to spin around, get
in the car and drive off!
He soon discovered what I already knew - skating is
great fun! Our friend Roger, put on his first pair of
skates at age 83! And, there are three couples ranging from
ages 63 - 73. So, no matter what age or shape you're in,
roller skating is a fun way to get exercise. At our adult
skating sessions, there is usually an equal mix of singles
and couples from age 25 - 85. Skating can be VERY aerobic
or very leisurely, depending on your pace, time and how much
The usual skate sessions last two hours. Our rink has
adult sessions which are quieter and less crowded than the
"all skate" sessions. You might call your local rink to see
if they offer the same. Roller skating is a perfect couples
activity, too. There are many graceful and simple dances
you can do together. You can just skate around and enjoy
the freeing, gliding feeling of the skates rolling across
the floor or you can take skating lessons and get real
technical with it.
How about downhill skiing? Too intimidating for you?
Then consider cross country skiing. Doctors and fitness ex-
perts agree that cross country skiing may be the most
aerobic work-out available. Also, it's very inspiring and
exhilarating to be in the mountains. Ask your local YMCA
about cross-country ski classes. They combine instruction
with an actual cross-country skiing experience. They make
it easy and fun to learn. It's really fun and a nice way to
meet people with similar interests.
For you non-athletes, an easy and gentle way to start an
exercise program is to get out and walk! This can be as
leisurely or as vigorous as you want it to be. Wherever you
walk, whether town or country, you will be inspired by
nature's beauty and gain many benefits. For variety, city
dwellers can walk around a sports field, the local parks, in
the quieter neighborhoods - use your imagination!
We find that walking in the woods is very nurturing and
inspiring. It is also better for you mentally and
physically. Besides the cleaner air, the natural variety of
the surface and it's softness are better for your feet, legs
and back. There are usually more ups and downs and walking
up a steep hill is a great way to warm up and wake up on a
While walking or hiking, take some slow, deep breaths.
It is important to bring oxygen to your body and brain. You
will find this will relax as well as stimulate you. During
your walk, untie any mental knots you might have. We have
has some amazing business ideas come to us on our hikes
together! And, we have fun too. Walking can help bring you
back into a more amused, accepting attitude. It also
strengthens the heart, lungs, tones muscles and lessens
anxiety and depression. (please note: all exercise brings
you these benefits. During moderate physical activity, the
body sends endorphins and other similar mood-elevating
hormones to our entire system - leaving us feeling lighter
Consistency is important in any exercise program. Many
fitness experts agree that a brisk 20 minute walk three
times a week is the best way to begin. Be sure you have
high quality, supportive shoes for this. For moral support,
walk with a friend! You can also get caught up on the
latest news and get in shape at the same time.
Here's some things you can do while walking:
* For those of you who like to do more than one
thing at a time, jot down a specific concern or
consideration you have. Expect a solution during the course
of your walk. As solutions come to you, jot them down. This
way you can be productive and get your exercise at the same
Please note: Sometimes, walk alone with NO objective and NO
thing on your mind. Just bring yourself to the present
moment - deeply absorb and breathe in the sights and sounds
around you. You need solitude, too! Some of my most
"productive" moments have been during a long walk in the
woods near our home. Being in the woods nourishes my entire
being. It also rejuvenates, inspires and calms me mentally.
Suggestion - perceive productivity differently. For me,
time spent in meditation, relaxation or at leisure is very
productive! Some of my most creative ideas have come to me
during these "non-activities." Also, being non-active gives
me the deep rest that I need.
* While walking, you can also focus on sending
thoughts of relaxation, release of painful joints or
muscles, or simply for sending messages of health and
happiness to your body.
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assume any liability for the information contained herein.
The Information contained herein reflects only the opinion
of the author and is in no way to be considered medical advice.
Specific medical advice should be obtained from a licensed
health care practitioner. Consult your physician before you
begin any nutrition, exercise, or dietary supplement program.