By Chris Hoffman
We are all being encouraged to stay or become physically fit today.
We see ads for weight loss programs, where you can buy all your meals from a weight loss company and have them delivered to your home. There are fitness centers popping up all over, and many of them are open 24 hours a day, so you have no excuse for not exercising every day. Female celebrities are designing their own line of workout clothes so you can look great while you exercise. Male athletes are endorsing fitness products and hosting shows that pit athletes against each other to complete extraordinary feats of strength and endurance.
On the home front, many companies are encouraging their employees to get fit by rewarding them with lower insurance cost if their BMI shows their weight is appropriate for a male or female of their height.
Let’s face it. We all are pretty aware of the importance of watching our weight and keeping physically fit. Everyone would like to look their best and feel rested, energized, and stress free when they wake in the morning—but the truth is you might have been up a couple of times last night to feed the baby or care for a sick child.
Maybe you had a very restless night and are dealing with maximum stress because you have to make a presentation to the CEO of your company this afternoon. Or how about the morning your back is so stiff you can hardly bend over to put your shoes on, after spending the day before getting the yard ready for a family birthday party this weekend. We want to get in shape and eat right but, sometimes, life just gets in the way.
Maybe your reality is that you don’t have the time to drive to a gym or fitness center. It’s harder to take the time for exercise when you also have to add travel time. So, what is the answer? Change your thinking! Instead of thinking that you should go work out, think that you could walk two miles in the time it would take you to get your gear and drive to the fitness center.
You could jump in the pool and swim laps. Instead of sitting in your chair during the commercial break, get up and run the stairs five times. While you are waiting for the water to boil for the pasta, grab the can of tomato sauce and do some arm lifts. You can achieve a lot in just a few minutes if you think about it.
There are also ways to incorporate fitness into your lifestyle. Here are a few:
Get a bike. Join your kids and ride to the park or try out the city’s bike trails. Use your bike instead of the car, whenever possible, to run errands. You’ll help the environment as well as yourself.
If you don’t have a backyard pool, think about getting one. Besides the obvious fun you and your family would have for years, a pool provides an excellent exercise opportunity. Swimming laps is a great way to get in shape. It is easy on the joints, if that is a problem for you. Learn the different strokes and alternate swimming with each. Every stroke will use different muscles.
Water aerobics are also very beneficial. The buoyancy of the water will protect your joints while the resistance of the water gives you a good workout. Even just playing in the water will provide a workout. Above ground backyard pools come in all different sizes and are much more affordable than an in ground pool but just as much fun for the whole family.
3. Yoga and Tai Chi
You don’t need much equipment for yoga—just a yoga mat and a space to work out in. There is no equipment needed for Tai Chi. Both yoga and Tai Chi will improve your balance and help you tone. Movements are slow and thoughtful. You will receive the benefits of both even if you can’t complete the entire movement. You just go as far as you can into the movement.
If you are unfamiliar with yoga and Tai Chi, check out YouTube. There are videos that teach you each of the individual movements, and then there are videos that put the movements together for a peaceful, very centered experience. Besides the physical benefit, both yoga and Tai Chi can provide a great benefit to your spiritual and emotional health.
4 . Meditation
Meditation also requires only a mat. Meditation is very calming and can provide real stress relief. Meditation is a learned technique, and it may take a while for you to learn to quiet your thoughts.
Give it time. If you have never tried meditation before, think about a long-distance runner who, while running, is very aware of the rhythm of his feet at each step but not especially aware of the scenery he is passing or the noise surrounding him. That is the state you want to strive for.
Saunas are usually associated with Finland, where they are still very popular. A sauna is a closed room or building with super-heated dry heat. The person using a sauna will derive several benefits from it. Saunas are associated with stress relief. The heat is a muscle relaxer and has been used by athletes after vigorous workouts.
You will leave a sauna after 10-20 minutes, feeling relaxed and calm. Until recently, saunas were usually only available at larger fitness centers or athletic training facilities. Today, you can purchase a home sauna for use by you and your family.
If you are ready to invest in your health and well-being, try some of these methods. With time and commitment, you will be healthier physically—and spiritually and mentally as well.
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