The way I see it, someone who is “fit” has structured their body with the ability to engage in activities of daily living (ADLs), participate in recreational activities, and ward off chronic disease (diabetes, heart disease, etc.). Fitness is not about a number or a size—it is about FEELING GOOD, the absence of preventable disease, the ability to: feed oneself, dress oneself, run errands, run marathons, climb mountains, clean the house, play soccer with our kids, hike, swim, fish, golf, and cope with the day to day challenges of life.
Placing emphasis on fitness is an investment in your future. I STRONGLY believe that you have a choice to “pay” for your health now in terms of the effort to lead a healthy lifestyle, or later by dealing with negative health sequelae (not to mention the ultimate financial burden of associated healthcare costs).
Now some might say, “I don’t have enough time, energy, resources, motivation” etc. to “hit the gym”. In response to that, I would like to highlight that “working out” does NOT mean that you need to be in a gym environment. Fitness can come gradually with a few small substitutions a day—with that being said, I have a sneaking suspicion that if you start to make changes, you will notice results that will ultimately motivate you to make additional adjustments towards health.
Here are a few suggestions on how to make small changes in your routine that create lasting impact:
- First, see your primary care physician before starting any exercise routine. You want to get a “clean bill of health” before diving head first into a routine that places increased stress on your body (even though it is the good kind of stress).
- Strive to walk 10,000 steps per day—this can be tracked with an activity tracker or with free apps like Map My Fitness, or Strava. Some helpful tips include: always opting for the stairs vs escalator or elevator if possible, trying parking further away, using a small water bottle that you have to get up and fill more frequently at work, doing a “walking meeting” vs a traditional conference, and swapping Wii fit or Dance Dance Revolution for Grand Theft Auto
- Bike ride vs car ride—reduced cost, reduced carbon footprint, increased calorie burn—what’s not to love?
- Find a “workout buddy” and go on active dates— Skip the gym, and take a hike! A little Vitamin D mixed with a beautiful view does the body good! You could also try: biking, ice blocking, sledding, rock climbing, interpretive dance etc.—get creative!
- Getting your day started with a little movement vs hitting the snooze button…twice
- At the gym, focus on: doing planks instead of crunches, emphasizing weighted body/free motion exercises (squats vs leg press, free weights vs machines), interval workouts instead of a relaxed run--great for that ticker of yours!, utilizing the “incline” on the treadmill--it will tone those muscles as well as give you a great cardio sesh (as long as you don’t rely on those handgrips--treadmill “sans hands” will improve your sense of balance, and burn more calories!), and keep it fresh--avoid "burnout" or "plateauing" by trying a group fitness class instead of your standard cardio or strength routine
PS: No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everyone on the couch