Tag Archives: Manage Stress

What to Do to Get Started Walking

In my last post we looked at eight reasons why you should walk for your health: to lose weight; for heart and brain health; to get happy endorphins flowing, for more energy and general well-being. Hopefully, you were inspired to include walking as part of your daily activities. Today, we are going to talk about what to do to get started walking.

There are a few important things your should do to get started with a walking routine that will lead to a healthier life:

Check with Your Doctor

Image by wavebreak_media
Image by wavebreak_media

Starting any kind of exercise regimen should include a physical check up by your doctor. You want to make sure that what you have planned will be good for you – and not detrimental in any way.

Chances are your doctor will be completely supportive of your plan, but s/he may want to check your heart, your blood pressure and other vitals before you begin just to make sure your body can handle increased physical activity.

He may also request that you return for a follow up after a specific period of time, to make sure everything is going well.

Start Slow and Steady

For anyone starting a new physical exercise routine, starting out slow and steady is a good idea.  It is important to let your body adjust to the rhythm and energy you will be exerting.  This is particularly true if you are not accustomed to exercise, are terribly out of shape, and/or have been living a sedentary life for quite a while.

Start as slow as necessary – just be sure that you are moving your body a little each day, and that you are committed to increasing your time or distance every three or four days.

Listen to your body. Trying to do too much too fast can create serious problems.  You could strain muscles, have muscle cramps, feel weak from too much exertion . . . and also take away your motivation to continue walking daily.

Do what you can each day – be persistent – stay with it. I promise, you will begin to enjoy the process and your body will thank you.

Have a Schedule that Works for You

For most people it is a good idea to have a walking schedule. Each day after you have finished your walk, check it off. This reinforces the feeling of satisfaction that comes from having accomplished something important.

You may want to buy a special calendar for this purpose and write out your walking goals for each week.

Set up your schedule – start slow and gradually increase how far you walk or how long you walk. You can choose which of those things you want to use as your measure. For me, it is how long I walk.

If you are a complete novice at walking (and exercise), start with 5-10 minutes at a time for 3 to 5 days.  Then, increase it by 2-3 minutes and gradually add more days.

Continue until you reach a level that seems a good length of time for you.  My recommendation would be to work up to 30 minutes if at all possible; with 15-20 minutes at least 5 days a week as your minimum goal.

A Healthy Diet Is Part of the Plan

Image by klenova
Image by klenova

Walking is wonderful for your health, but you should also be eating healthy foods as part of your new routine. Even if you walk everyday (which is great), but continue to fill up on fried, fatty, sugary, processed foods, it will be more difficult to sustain the energy you need to walk regularly and for any extended period of time.

Feed your body fresh, whole foods, lean protein for energy, fruits and vegetables, and lots of whole grains. These foods will keep you feeling satisfied, they are good for your body, and provide the energy needed for walking (and everything else you want to do).

Do what you need to do the get started walking. Then, plan your new walking routine beginning today – and stay with it for the long-term! 

10 Crucial Practices for a Healthy Life

We cannot always control what happens to us, but we can control the choices we make that help or harm our health.

Today, I want to share 10 crucial practices for a healthy life.

1.    Eat Healthy Food

Image by klenova
Image by klenova

This is the foundation of a healthy life and a no-brainer, yet many people ignore this one completely.

You must be sure that your body gets adequate amounts of the nutients it needs in order to function correctly

When your diet is made up primarily of fast food, junk food, and heavily processed foods that are filled with sugar, sodium, fat and additives, you are essentially starving your body.  Your organs cannot function well over time when you live on a diet of empty calories.

The human body is miraculous, but it must have the proper fuel (healthy food as close to nature as possible) in order to do its job and keep you healthy.

Eating a healthy diet is critical and it is also important to watch your portions.

Overeating (gluttony) is not good for the body – especially your heart.  Many Americans eat far more than is necessary.

Folow the rule: Eat all foods (even healthy foods) in moderation

2.    Get Plenty of Rest

Without adequate rest (7 to 9 hours/night for the average person), your body will not function as it was meant to function. It will eventually tire out – opening to door to illness and disease.

Adequate rest and quality sleep time enhances bodily functions, reduces tension and anxiety, and sharpens the mind.

Establish a good rest routine. Listen to your body and figure out how much sleep you need. Everyone’s body is different; but, no matter who you are – less than 6-7 hours a night is not good.

A 20-30 minute power nap during the day is good for everyone – whether you are working or not. It will make your late afternoon and evening hours more productive. These are critical if you get less than 6 hours of sleep each night.

3.    Get Some Exercise Every Day

The human body is meant to be active. Continual, long-term inactivity weakens the body in multiple ways and saps your energy. Inactivity is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.

Exercise is a critical component of a healthy lifestyle. If you tend to be a couch potato (or desk-chair potato), now is the time to change. Get up and get moving.

The heart is a muscle. As with all muscles, it becomes stronger as a result of exercise. It works more efficiently as it pumps blood through the body with every beat. Exercise helps the heart work at maximum capacity with less strain.

When you get some daily exercise (at least 15-20 minutes a day) you will be protecting your heart and doing your part to prevent brittle bones and stiff joints as you get older.

Long strenuous workouts are not necessary. In fact, definitely do not start there. Begin with where you currently are physically and gradually increase as your body adapts.

Some options are:

  • Take a 15 – 20 minute walk each day.
  • Stretch when you get up in the morning with some easy arm and leg lifts.
  • Walk up and down stairs rather than take the elevator. Walking stairs a few times a day, even slowly is helpful.
  • Dance to your favorite music in your living room

Work with your body, not against it.

Find a type of exercise that appeals to you and do it. After a week or two with one type of exercise, introduce something new.

Take your time – but EXERCISE regularly.

4.    Drink Water

The human body ranges from 50-75% water with the average adult being 50-65% water. As a result, staying hydrated is critical for good health.

Water flushes germs, toxins and waste from the body. Fluids in general are good, but water is the only fluid that will flush your system adequately. So, drink at least 64 fluid ounces every day.

If you are thirsty, drink water instead of a soda, coffee, or energy drinks. The sugar, sodium, caffeine, and additives found in bottled drinks are NOT good for your health. Even bottled juice is not a good choice. It is primarily sugar water.

Making this simple change will save you money and your health will benefit tremendously.

5.    Be Smart – Be Safe

Imge by iofoto
Imge by iofoto

Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Wear a helmet and leathers when riding a motorcycle. Use good safety goggles when using hazardous tools. Have someone stabilize the ladder when hanging Christmas lights.  Need I say more? I think not.

Follow all safety rules for every activity – driving, riding motor cycles or bicycles, cooking, using tools, climbing ladders, cleaning windows, etc. (You get the idea, I’m sure.)

Protect your body and your brain at all times.

6.    Protect Your Skin

Men and women alike should utilize good moisturizers and lotions to protect the skin from too much sun. This is particularly true in the Sun Belt where skin cancers are far too common.

Lotions and moisturizers will help keep skin healthy over the long-term.

As the body matures, skin begins to break down and thin, which requires even more protection (long-sleeved shirts and a hat) when you plan to be in the sun for extended periods of time.

7.    Manage Your Stress

Image by B-D-S
Image by B-D-S

Stress is a silent killer. It not only drags you down emotionally, making it difficult to maintain a positive outlook on life; it also affects you physically, especially your heart and blood pressure.

Find ways to manage your stress, or it will take a serious toll on your health.

Exercise, practice relaxation techniques (e.g. deep breathing), socialize (have fun), enjoy the arts (draw, paint, write), take long nature walks, and daily meditation are just a few things that can help you with de-stressing.

If you are continually worried, short-tempered, rarely laugh, wish everyone would leave you alone, have trouble sleeping, or are constantly exhausted, there is a good chance you are living with extreme stress.

Do something about it!

Look at your life and find ways to relax, let go of stress, and be healthier.

8.    Stop Smoking

This is not news and very little needs to be said. It is an unhealthy, disgusting habit. It has no redeeming graces.  And . . . it is extremely bad for your heart and your lungs.

9.    Limit Your Alcohol Intake (or abstain)

10. Take Advantage of Modern Medicine

Image by wavebreak_media
Image by wavebreak_media

At a minimum, have an annual checkup.  Talk to your doctor and follow his advice.

I am not saying to take pills for every pain or minor problem that appears, but follow the basics to protect your body from illness and disease.

Pay attention to your body. It will give you signals when things are not as they should be.

For example, watch your blood pressure and have your blood tested regularly for signs of conditions such as high blood sugar that can be treated effectively when caught early.

For seniors, it is wise to have a shingles and pneumonia shot when advised, etc.

When potentially serious problems are identified early, they can often be resolved before any long-lasting damage is done.

The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” carries as much wisdom today as it did when it was first uttered.

It is never too late to start living a healthier life. The practices listed above are all within your control.

Is long-term health important enough to you

that you will  do what you must in order to make it a reality?