FUN FACT: Exercise increases serotonin in the brain, which leads to improved mental clarity.
Aim for Fitness
Warm and sunny days are perfect times to get active.
If you have a competitive spirit, playing tennis, soccer or volleyball may be more your game.
You don't need to train for a marathon to be active, however. Riding your bike, hiking and even gardening can be great ways to increase your heart rate. Just taking the time for a brisk walk is a great exercise option. Consider making it part of your routine early in the morning or at dusk when the weather is a little cooler. It not only is good for our bodies, it also improves our moods and even our memories.
Federal guidelines recommend 2.5 hours (or 150 minutes) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. It defines moderate-intensity aerobic activity as “working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell is that you'll be able to talk but not sing the words to your favorite song.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers these examples of activities that require moderate effort: walking fast, water aerobics, riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills, playing doubles tennis and pushing a lawn mower. The CDC notes that you can break up the recommended allotment into smaller increments. Even 10 minutes at a time is fine, the agency says. That sounds doable, right? So why not use these warm and sunlight-filled months to improve your overall well-being?
Staying the Course
Of course, for more serious fitness buffs, intense physical activity may increase your chances of getting hurt. Running, for example, often results in pulled muscles, joint pain and stress fractures. To help avoid these injuries, wear proper footwear, stretch out properly and cross-train to work other muscle groups.
You can also protect yourself against such injuries by using proper technique. When you jog, make sure that your posture is erect, your hands and shoulders are relaxed and your stride is low to the ground. A correct running position will reduce the stress on your body, and help you run faster and more efficiently.
Whatever kind of exercise you do, take time to warm up and stretch—and in that order. When vigorously working out, do some easy walking or jogging first. Stretching prevents injuries and feels good on the muscles.
A Family Affair
One way to motivate yourself to move is to make exercise a family sport. Perhaps take turns among yourselves picking a weekend activity, such as bicycling, swimming at the public pool, playing a sport or taking an exercise class. Instead of watching television, go to the park or recruit one of your children to help you in the garden. Maybe you'd even like to purchase a family membership to the local Y or community center.
Other creative ways to fit in exercise are to walk—not drive—to a friend's house or play a game of tag. Exercising as a family is a good way to instill good health habits in your children and spend time together. It also helps to remind us that fitness does not have to be a chore. The more we enjoy it, the more likely we are to keep it up throughout the year.
For information, please call our Health Access Line at 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 or visit find a physician online.
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