Friday, December 2, 2016

Put a Little Love in Your Step

At a recent appointment, the doctor referred to me as an "athlete" when describing my condition to his student.  Athlete?  Me?  Ha!  No way would I ever have imagined myself as an athlete.
This is me in 2012.  To think of myself as an athlete then was, more than laughable.
But here's the truth.  I love to work out.  In fact, I feel best after one that pushes the limits of my endurance.  Any physical activity that gets my heart rate up, makes me sweat or makes me want to quit...but I push through it anyway. This kind of physical fatigue helps to both manage stress and provide a sense of accomplishment, and is tremendously rewarding.  But an athlete?  Ha...I don't know about this.

Ok, so maybe I am athletic, but I am no competitive athlete, that's for sure!
Here's the thing, you need to move your body pretty much every day.  Yes, every day.  In fact, I'm not the only one to say it.  The American Heart Association and the Center for Disease Control recommend 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise at least five days per week and muscle-strengthening which focuses on all muscle groups at least two days per week.

Question of the day....

How in the world do I do that?  Where do I even begin?

It's easy.  If you are a beginner, start with walking.  Yes.  That's it.  Start with a walk.  I recommend using a fitness tracker, such as a Fitbit.  I used to have a Jawbone UP24, but now I just use the pedometer in my phone (most phones have one).  Step one is to determine your baseline.  For at least five days, carry your phone with you everywhere, or wear your Fitbit (or other tracking device) all the time.  Look at your average steps / mileage each day, add it and divide by the number of days you are tracking.  Then look at increasing your steps by 10%.  So, if your average number of steps in 5,000 steps, try to increase by 500 steps.  That's probably a brief 10 minute walk.  Gradually increase to 1/2 hour, then to an hour.  One hour might seem like a lot, but listening to music* while you walk or walking with a friend makes the time fly by quickly.  Set yourself a deadline.  "I want to walk 10,000 steps every day by the end of two weeks."  Then stick to that deadline.

My average daily steps since November 25 is 8,600 steps.  To increase my daily average to 10,000 steps. that's simply adding about a one mile walk to my day each day.  This is a quick walk around the block with the puppy for me.
This is an easily attainable goal.   The most important thing is to NOT over do it.  Seriously!!!  If you are averaging 3,000 steps / day and you start taking 5 mile walks immediately, you're either going to hate it or you won't be able to maintain the consistency of that.  The key is set a goal, determine your frequency and then stick to it.  What do I mean by frequency?
  • Three 10 minute walks:  one before work, one at lunch, one after work or
  • A 1/2 hour walk every day or
  • One hour walk / 2x per week with two 15-minute walks on the other days
Start small, then work your way up.

Already relatively active?  Increase the intensity of your exercise.  Add some intervals to your walks.  I started interval running over the summer and have made it up to being able to run 3 miles now.  I am NOT a runner.  In fact, my doctor told me, "No running!"  But I HATE the limitations I've had from my shoulder pain, so I started running.
This afternoon's run.  Don't you just love the pink headband with the maroon shirt?
Interval training / exercise is proven to be a very effective way to burn fat.  Yes, my friends, that's right.  So, how do you do it?  If you are walking, walk very slowly for two minutes, then increase your speed as fast as you can for one minute.  Continue this for 24 minutes, with a cool down for six minutes (there's your thirty).  If one minute at a fast pace is too much, try one minute very slow, followed by 30 seconds as fast as you can.

As I continue this series on wellness, I will give you some more exercise tips / tidbits.  Walking is a great start and interval training will most definitely help you with weight loss goals. So, we will start there with my blog.  As the season continues, I'll throw some more practical suggestions your way. Whatever you do, stick with it!

Put a Little Love in Your Heart
by Jackie DeShannon

*Top 5 songs on my playlists:

Running playlist:
Can't Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake
Cheap Thrills by Sia
Me Too by Meghan Trainor
Don't Let Me Down by The Chainsmokers
Let Me Love You (feat. Justin Beaber) by DJ Snake

Walking playlist:
Forever by Kari Jobe
10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman
The More I seek You by Christ for the Nations
Oceans by Hillsong UNITED
Overcome by Jeremy Camp

Read more from my series on wellness

Questions for you...
Do you like to exercise?  If not, what's your least despised way to move your body?
If you do like to exercise, what's your preference?  Comment in the section below.

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