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Healthy Heart by Geraldine Bartlett

Healthy Heart by Geraldine Bartlett

It's a new decade. How many of you reading this right now are thinking how good it would feel to be in shape at last? How wonderful it would feel to make and keep those New Year's resolutions? If you live in a colder climate you may be hunkered down inside waiting out the winter. In a warmer climate,  you may be hunkered down waiting for the right time to begin. Like last year, right? Maybe even the year before that? How many of you, once again, feel disappointed because you know you should exercise but feel you probably won't? Don't have the energy? It may be, your body needs exercise! The good news is our body wants to move and is eager and waiting to begin.

We read about exercise promoting strong health every day. We are told the longer we put off becoming active, the more we lose in cardio endurance and strength which is crucial in the ability to build muscle mass, bone density, increase flexibility, strength and balance. Not to mention our psychological wellbeing. And yet, some of us continue to resist taking that step and getting started. The truth is, it is not until you take that initial step and reap the rewards of even minor changes that this information becomes tangible and something you'll believe.

For new parents, or those of you with children at home, this may seem impossible. You are too tired. There is no time. I can assure you, starting an exercise program will only give you more energy.  Ask yourself what is more valuable to you in life than your health and the health of your family and you will find the time. We know the health crisis that is facing our children today regarding obesity.  It is up to you to set an example for your kids from day one. Show them you are someone who takes care of yourself.

I believe one of the reasons we put off exercising is we've forgotten how good it feels to be in our body and how movement can be fun.
 
As children, if we were able and not health challenged, we most likely had an abundance of energy. Why walk? We ran to where we wanted to go or better yet, we might skip or jump or walk sideways or backward. The body loves to move and this does not stop in childhood. The body and brain continue, throughout life, to thrive in being challenged by movement. As we become adults and our responsibilities increase, we forget how much our bodies need to play, stretch and unwind. The dog needs to be walked, right? Why not you? Being sedentary is a major health risk. The heart is a muscle and needs to be exercised.

If I told you that the adjustment from inertia to activity, from guilt to empowerment, from feeling tired to feeling inspired was as simple as walking in to your living room or back yard would you believe me? Or going on vacation could actually be more fun by throwing an exercise DVD or yoga mat in your bag? But let's start at home. No commute, no gym fee, just you.

First of all, it is important to make an appointment with yourself. Set a time during your day that is good for you and stick to that time. Make this top priority. If you are a morning person, get up a half an hour earlier.  If you are more energized in the evening, set aside the half hour when you get home from work or before dinner.

Remember to lie out your work out clothes the night before for added incentive.

Now set the timer for 30 minutes.

Put on that exercise DVD that’s been sitting it the drawer and begin.

Unroll the yoga mat that’s been sitting in the closet, put on a yoga DVD and get down on the floor and stretch.

Put on your favorite CD, pick up your jump rope, jump through one song, and then use an exercise ball to gain core strength and flexibility. Add a strength session twice a week, light (3's) and heavy (5's) set of weights and you're off and running.

See how good it feels? If it’s difficult for you to motivate yourself to do it alone, ask your spouse, or partner or a friend to join you.
 
There are great DVD's out there to guide you in the correct form to use when performing exercises, with or without the ball. Once you feel aware of your body and notice how your energy dwindles when you don't exercise, you may even extend the duration of your work out or add another day. When the timer goes off after thirty minutes, you may want to continue.
 
If ordering a ball or mat or picking up a set of weights on your way home from work isn't happening for you yet, think of what you like to do, that is active, then give yourself a half an hour three times a week to do just that.

Like to dance? Put on your favorite CD and try dancing around your living room to at least three songs, a minimum of three times a week. Try it. Try getting your body used to moving again. Even a minor increase in your heart rate is a step toward improving your heart health. Move your hips, move your arms away from your body and above your head, stretch, breathe, move! Sing along too. No one is going to hear you and if they do, so what? Maybe you'll inspire them to get moving as well. Get out your old bike. Join the Y and jump in the pool.

Of course, if you've been sedentary for a prolonged period of time, or are in a risk group, you must check with your doctor first to be sure it is safe for you to increase your heart rate. If you have weight issues, you might also inquire as to what is appropriate for you nutrition wise. Get the go ahead and start moving!

The value of time spent doing something good for yourself is immeasurable. You have a half an hour. You do not have to qualify for the Olympics to get started. It is a minor adjustment that can make a monumental difference in your outlook, longevity and quality of life.

Oh, and don’t forget to walk to a mirror when you're finished and congratulate yourself on doing what you said you were going to do and a job well done. As a fitness trainer, there is nothing more rewarding than watching a client progress from the guilt laden inertia of "I really need to start exercising" to the vibrancy and empowerment of "I can't believe how great I feel now that I'm working out."

Enjoy this new time for yourself.  Your heart needs your help and will thank you!

 

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