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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
11:58 PM Mon, Sept. 24th

Don't give me your excuses

Hello, Simply Fit readers.

Thanksgiving is over and the holiday season is in full swing which means cookies, candies, cakes and almost every other imaginable type of dessert and goodie will be patiently waiting to be added to your hips and thighs.

Recently a friend advised me to not worry about how much I am eating and to just enjoy Thanksgiving. This was good advice. Instead of depriving myself of all those favorite treats including my daughter's home-made pumpkin pie (even the crust was from scratch) I enjoyed a small portion of ALL my favorites. I took my time and savored every scrumptious bite. At the end of the day, I was completely satisfied and the stretchy pants didn't have to come out. How many of you had to bring out the stretchy pants?

I recently read an article in Nutrition Action Health Letter regarding the health benefits of physical activity. As I was validating the quotes, I came across two websites that I haven't visited in a very long time. "Go for Life. National Institute on Aging" http://go4life.nia.nih.gov/ and "Health Finder.Gov" http://www.healthfinder.gov/prevention/category.aspx?catId=1

These two websites provide valuable health and fitness information to anyone and everyone.

I highly encourage you to put these sites in your "favorites" so that you can refer to them often.

We all know that being a couch potato is a bad thing yet approximately 60 percent of Americans do not get enough physical activity. Here are a few facts to get you thinking over this holiday season and the years to come.

According to Health.Gov: Why Move?

Strong Evidence

Shows a lower risk of:

• Early death

• Heart disease

• Stroke

• Type 2 diabetes

• High blood pressure

• Adverse blood lipid profile

• Metabolic syndrome

• Colon and breast cancers

• Prevention of weight gain

• Weight loss when combined with diet

• Improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness

• Prevention of falls

• Reduced depression

• Better cognitive function (older adults)

Moderate to Strong Evidence

• Better functional health (older adults)

• Reduced abdominal obesity

Moderate Evidence

• Weight maintenance after weight loss

• Lower risk of hip fracture

• Increased bone density

• Improved sleep quality

• Lower risk of lung and endometrial cancers

According to go4life.nia.nih.gov, other benefits include:

• Can help maintain and improve your physical strength and fitness.

• Can help improve your ability to do the everyday things you want to do.

• Can help improve your balance.

• Can help manage and improve diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.

• Can help reduce feelings of depression and may improve mood and overall well-being.

• May improve your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity, and ignore irrelevant information

According to healthguidance.org, the disadvantage of leading a sedentary lifestyle are:

• Obesity. Due to lowered activity the number of calories burnt are far less than those consumed leading to obesity. Increased fat deposition in the body increases the risk of suffering with diseases such as heart attack, diabetes and more.

• Research work has shown that people who lead a sedentary lifestyle become aged very fast. This is due to the damage of the telomeres, present at the end of the chromosomes. Telomeres play role in preventing the aging process.

• Sedentary lifestyle promotes formation of blocks within arteries resulting in circulatory problems that lead to heart related problems such as atherosclerosis.

• Decreased activity increases the risk of developing certain types of cancers such as breast cancer, colon cancer, and other types of malignant tumors.

• Reduced activity also reduces muscle strength, joint structure and functioning, thus predisposing the person to diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis where bones become brittle and fragile.

• Leading a sedentary lifestyle reduces the brain activity making the person less reactive which in turn hinders the individuals work progress. Lack of sufficient work progress makes the person depressed.

• Individuals who lead a sedentary lifestyle from childhood develop high blood pressure at a very early age.

• Individuals who lead a sedentary lifestyle do not love to socialize much and remain at home all the time glued to the couch. They will not be ready to take up any challenges in life

So now you know the benefits of exercise. Now you need to know how much exercise you should aim for. Here are some guidelines from the US Department of Health and Human Services:

What are the Guidelines for adults?

• Adults should do a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week by doing activities like brisk walking, ballroom dancing, or general gardening. Adults can choose 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity by doing exercise like jogging, aerobic dancing, and jumping rope. Adults also may choose combinations of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

• Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably spread throughout the week. For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 5 hours (300 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity or 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week to achieve the unique benefits of strengthening activities

What are the Guidelines for children and adolescents?

• Children and adolescents aged 6-17 years should accumulate 1 hour or more of physical activity daily. The 1 hour of activity should be mostly aerobic but should also include muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities. Youth should include vigorous-intensity activity in this 1 hour on at least 3 days a week. They should also do muscle-strengthening activities on at least 3 days and bone-strengthening activities on at least 3 days a week. It is important to encourage young people to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, enjoyable, and offer variety. The Guidelines list a number of examples of each type of activity for children and adolescents.

According to go4life.nia.nih.gov, there are 4 Types of Exercises and physical activity which fall into four basic categories - endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Most people tend to focus on one activity or type of exercise and think they're doing enough. Each type is different, though. Doing them all will give you more benefits. Mixing it up also helps to reduce boredom and cut your risk of injury.

Though we've described each type separately, some activities fit into more than one category. For example, many endurance activities also build strength. Strength exercises also help improve balance.

Endurance

Endurance, or aerobic, activities increase your breathing and heart rate. They keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy and improve your overall fitness. As a result, they delay or prevent many diseases that are common in older adults such as diabetes and heart disease. Building your endurance makes it easier to carry out many of your everyday activities.

• Brisk walking or jogging

• Yard work (mowing, raking, digging)

• Dancing

• Swimming

• Biking

• Climbing stairs or hills

• Playing tennis

• Playing basketball

Strength

Strength exercises make your muscles stronger. Even small increases in strength can make a big difference in your ability to stay independent and carry out everyday activities, such as climbing stairs and carrying groceries. These exercises also are called "strength training" or "resistance training."

• Lifting weights

• Using a resistance band

Balance

Balance exercises help prevent falls, a common problem in older adults. Many lower-body strength exercises also will improve your balance.

• Standing on one foot

• Heel-to-toe walk

• Tai Chi

Flexibility

Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and can help your body stay limber. Being flexible gives you more freedom of movement for other exercises as well as for your everyday activities.

• Shoulder and upper arm stretch

• Calf stretch

• Yoga

Ultimately it's your choice. You can choose to be sedentary, choose to eat too much, choose to eat fast food, and choose to make excuses. I'm asking you to choose a good life; a life with more possibilities and less excuses! Are you with me?

Peace!