Did you know that one of the best medicines in the world is free and has virtually no ill side effects? What is it you ask? It’s being more physically active. There are some people who are dedicated and committed and are very active daily – or at least they are active several times a week. Others are not very active at all. The rest of us get it in where we can fit it into our busy schedules. But increased physical activity is one of easiest things to do, and it is a very important strategy to add to your weight loss efforts. So, why then, is it hard for people to do it regularly. A gym is too expensive. I don’t have time. I’m always too tired. No equipment at home. These are some of the reasons I have heard. I’ve even used a couple of them. However, I believe people would be more effective if they changed their mindset. Let me give you some examples.
I try hard to avoid use of the word “exercise” because it just sounds too much like work. Becoming more mobile is an important part of the plan to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, regulate blood sugar, manage your cholesterol, and help you to feel better overall. There are several simple and effective things we all can do to become more active, and they don’t require a lot of equipment or a lot of money.
You don’t need to run a rigorous trek down the block or around the track. Walking is something everyone can do regardless of their fitness level. You can walk quickly or slowly, vigorously or moderately, up or down a hill, across flat terrain, or up and down a flight of stairs. You can even walk up and down the hallway in your home. There are some people who take “walk” breaks at work and walk around the long hallways. You can even walk in place. Swinging your arms helps to enhance the intensity of your workout. Obviously, the more briskly you walk, the more calories you are likely to burn. As your fitness level improves, the more walking you can do. If you really want to add a challenge to your routine, add a light set of dumbbells (perhaps a 2 pound weight for each hand approximately $12 to buy both of them). If you’re cheap, you can get a couple of 12 ounce bottles and fill them with sand or dirt. That works beautifully. I work hard to increase the amount of walking I do. When I go to the supermarket or to the mall, I seldom park my car in the closest space near my destination. I find a space that will give me extra steps. I also take the stairs as often as I can, avoiding the elevators. This may not seem like much; however, each step you take is cumulative and adds to the number of calories you burn each day.
If you’re like me, this is a word you probably haven’t heard since P.E. class in grade school, or if you were in the military, this word may have been circulated in your boot camp or basic training and throughout your military career. If you don’t know what it is, well calisthenics is nothing more than a series of activities in which you use just your own body for a workout. Push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, shadow boxing, and deep knee bends are all examples of calisthenics. There are also other things you can do, which you can easily find from a basic Google search. I recommend you do three sets of each one, doing as many as you can for 2 minutes and a 1 minute rest in between.
3. Jumping Rope
Though I don’t do it often, I like this one because it is something you can do practically any place. You can do this in a park, in your parking lot or driveway, in your back yard, or any place with a space big enough for you to maneuver the rope. This gives you a good workout of your arms, legs, back, shoulders, buttocks, and abs. A high end jump rope can cost $50 on up, particularly if it has an odometer and a heart rate monitor. But if all you want is a basic rope, you can expect to pay about $10-$12 (or less); however if you don’t want to spend that, you can jump in place, simulating you have a rope in your hands. Don’t worry if people look at you as if you’re crazy. Just do your thing.
One of my favorite things to do is dancing. Turn on some music and pretend you’re in a night club and dance away. Think Saturday Night Fever, except in your living room or basement. Whether you do formal structured dance or are just moving to the beat of the music, it doesn’t matter. Moving sufficiently enough to get the blood flowing is all that is required.
5. Digital Workout Programs
If you have cable, there are dozens of fabulous workout programs. You’ll find yoga, Pilates, Jazzercize, shadow boxing, and a wide array of options. If you don’t have cable, just go to Youtube or Vimeo and do a search for a specific activity (i.e., aerobics, yoga, calisthenics).
You can also just toss the ball around with your friends or family members. Doing it as a group might even make it more fun for you. It just takes a little imagination to increase your physical activity. So, no more excuses. In the words of the Olivia Newton John song, let’s get physical.