"Fitness Is for Much More Than Weight Loss"
~by Edna Kane-Williams~
Contributor to an extension of WhiteHouse.gov
Well, many of us have done it again. We promised ourselves that we wouldn’t overeat during the holidays. But those savory dishes just kept calling our names. And, on top of that, somewhere along the way many of us got too busy and fell off the exercise wagon.
Regardless of what your weakness has been, the good thing now is that we all have another chance. Regardless of age, doctors say, exercise has benefits for all of us. So with immediate action, consistency and a regimen that realistically fits into our schedules, we will soon see — and feel — the benefits.
“Feel” is actually a key word here. The fact that exercising and becoming physically fit causes us to feel better and improves our overall health often gets lost in all the emphasis on weight loss and how we look. Perhaps if we paid more attention to the total benefits of physical fitness, we would be even more inspired to stay on track. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “As an adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health.”
So let’s take a look at just three of the many benefits of exercise — in addition to weight loss:
1. Healthier blood pressure and impact on hypertension. The Journal of the American Heart Association announced on Dec. 17 that people who achieve high fitness levels can prevent or reduce high blood pressure. The report said, “There was a relationship between fitness and hypertension regardless of age, gender, race, obesity, resting blood pressure, or diabetes.”
2. Prevention of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. When combined with healthy eating, exercise can prevent these and a range of chronic diseases. And these four just happen to be the leading causes of death for African Americans. Exercise also helps prevent other illnesses that can come with age, like osteoporosis; it strengthens our bones and muscles; and it improves cognitive functions, which keep us from falling.
3. Finally, exercise actually helps to clear our minds. Harvard University’s School of Public Health reports that regular exercise “relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety and improves mood.”
Wow! So, in addition to losing weight, we’ve got a lot of other reasons to exercise and get fit. Whether endurance, strength, balance or flexibility, ask your doctor what fitness plan is best for you. Then, as First Lady Michelle Obama would say to children and adults, “Let’s get moving!”
If you are inclined to purchase a new pedometer, this article has some good tips.
"How to Choose and Use a Pedometer"
~By Liza Barnes, Health Educator~
A recent study from the RAND Corporation found that people who live in the suburbs are more prone to chronic physical health problems than people living in compact urban areas. The theory is that "suburban sprawl" reduces the time people spend walking, thus increasing the time they spend sitting in cars, which is associated with higher rates of obesity, high blood pressure, arthritis, headaches and breathing difficulties.
So if you live in the suburbs, or spend a lot of time in your car, what can you do to combat this growing problem? Just move! Not your house…just your body. Go for a walk!
The average American takes 5,000 steps a day, which is only half of the 10,000 daily steps recommended to achieve good health. For weight loss, 12,000 to 15,000 steps a day will help you achieve your goals. But who’s got time to count? That’s where the pedometer comes in. A pedometer is a nifty little gadget that counts your footsteps by sensing your body motion.
They range in price from $5 up, but before you buy one, check with your workplace. Some sponsor walking programs and give out pedometers for free. Pedometers come in different varieties, many of which boast lots of extras.
Here are some common features:
Distance and Speed Estimators (calculated by programming average stride length, or with a GPS system, the latter of which is more accurate)
Calorie Expenditure Estimators (calculated by programming weight)
Heart Rate monitor
Steps per Minute
Computer compatibility, which allows the user to upload data from the pedometer and graph stepping progress.
Flip Case (to prevent accidental button pressing)
One of the most important features a pedometer can boast, however, is comfort. It should not be bulky and should include a safety strap, so you don’t drop it down the toilet. The best place to wear a pedometer is at the waist, aligned with the knee.
Wearing a pedometer is a great way to keep track of your daily activity, motivating you to get on your feet on days when you haven’t been so active. You don’t have to set aside lots of extra time to work walking into your busy schedule. Here are some ways to add more steps each day:
Avoid rock-star parking spaces. You can add hundreds of steps each day by parking farther from (rather than closer to) entrances.
Play Tag. Playing with kids is sure to increase your daily step count, and it’s fun too.
Shun the elevator. Take the stairs. These more challenging steps will help to build muscle too.
Move your feet, not your fingers. Walk to the accounting office instead of calling or e-mailing to ask a question.
Pace. Whether you’re waiting for the bus, or on a layover at the airport, use the opportunity to get in some extra steps.
Clean your house. Been putting off emptying out the hall closet? Cleaning is a great way to increase your daily stepping totals.
Enjoy the weather. Although most of the leaves are on the ground and the summer nights are behind us, don’t spend the winter hibernating. Invest in a fleece scarf and a good pair of earmuffs and get outside for some fresh crisp air.
If you’re the competitive type, you may become a pedometer-addict, constantly trying to squeeze in a few extra steps, so consider yourself warned. But there's only one consequence of this addiction—a slimmer, trimmer, fitter you.
Track your daily steps with SparkPeople's Step Tracker.
We created an optional tracker for you to log your daily steps, but it has to be "turned on" if you want to use it.
To add a Step Tracker to your Fitness Tracker:
1. Go to "my Fitness" (your Fitness Tracker) under the My Tools tab.
2. Click the "Change Fitness Goals" button near the top of your Fitness Tracker page.
3. On the next page, click the "Setup" link next to the Step Tracker.
4. Set your daily goal, make sure to check the box (to add it to your tracker) and "Save Your Changes."
Now, your new step tracker will show up on your Fitness Tracker for easily tracking each day!
Have happy, healthy week!!
Krys (Forwarded by Bob)