Fit and Maintaining Good Health
one's well being requires a balance between the physical, social,
economic, spiritual and mental aspects of life. This is unique
to your own experience and needs. At times, you may find yourself
out of balance and it can take an effort to regain equilibrium.
In finding your balance, it is important to remember that you
may feel that you don't have the time, energy or interest to do
some of the things you enjoy. Don't wait for your eagerness or
interest to return before you get moving. They may not come back
on their own. First, you need to begin doing some of the things
that you used to like. The enjoyment and enthusiasm often come
Maintaining Good Health
While maintaining good health habits will not guarantee a longer
life, it will certainly improve the quality of life. The following
are a few simple factors, if practiced regularly, that help minimize
the risk of illness and enrich life:
of smoking and drug abuse
or moderation of alcohol use
and healthy diet
of high blood pressure
- good safety
Physical activity need not be strenuous to be of benefit. Indeed,
all of us have many opportunities to become more active in our daily
routine. Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Walk to
the store instead of driving. Use a push lawn mower instead of a
power lawn mower (or hiring your neighbor's child). It's never too
late to become active. If you are already active, keep at it. If
you are not, start!
means different things to different people. Possibly the important
thing to know is what works for you and how you can best incorporate
it into your lifestyle. That doesn't mean you
have to take 3 hours from your day to go the gym and workout. It
also doesn't mean you are exempt from exercise because you climb
three flights of stairs everyday at work or at home. It means incorporating
a daily fitness program into your life whether at work, or at home.
What it means, is that you are taking a specific amount of time
from your schedule, elevating your heart, contracting your muscles
and moving for a specific amount time to benefit your health.
Exercise is a key factor in staying healthy. The question is not
should you exercise, but what kind of exercise is appropriate for
you? Exercise strengthens bones, heart, and lungs; tones muscles;
and increases physical reserve and vitality. It also helps you sleep
better, relieves depression, and prevents constipation.
Guidelines for exercise include:
If you are just starting an exercise program and have any health
concerns (such as obesity), have your doctor conduct an exercise
tolerance test to help you establish limits for your exercise program.
Begin gradually (perhaps with brisk walking) and don't expect to
"get into shape" overnight. Your fitness should start to improve
within 3 months with consistent effort.
You should be able to carry on a conversation while you are exercising.
At the same time, you typically should work hard enough to sweat
during each exercise period.
In order to become fit, plan an exercise routine that will last
20 to 30 minutes at least 3 days a week. Include stretching before
and after your exercise. This will help avoid injury. Remember to
start slowly and listen to your body's pain messages. If it hurts,
then you have probably overdone it.
While exercises such as weight lifting provide strength to the muscles,
they do little for the fitness of the heart. Aerobic exercises strengthen
the heart and lungs and should be part of the fitness routine. Examples
of good aerobic exercises include: walking, running, jogging, swimming,
cross-country skiing, rowing, rope skipping, dancing, racket sports,
The duration of your exercise routine should be at least 20 to 30
minutes, and for more dramatic fitness results 45 to 50 minutes.
In addition, remember that aerobic exercise can't be "start and
stop"--it must be sustained for at least a 10- to 12-minute period.
Adjustments in exercise programs need to be made for children, pregnant
women, obese adults, elderly people, disabled people, and heart-attack
survivors. Programs should also be modified for high altitudes and
extreme heat or cold conditions.
Use good equipment (especially good shoes) for your fitness program
and do some research into a new type of activity before launching
No exercise program ever goes smoothly. There may be setbacks (such
as illness or injury), but these should not change your overall
program. If necessary, substitute one exercise activity for another
(for example, switch from running to swimming). If you do have a
setback, don't start immediately at your previous level of activity.
You should take about as long to get back to your previous level
of activity as the time you were out of action.
Exercise can be fun even though it may not seem fun at first. Don't
be afraid to vary both the duration and type of exercise activity
if your present one is getting boring.