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January 28, 2011

Build Exercise Into Your Daily Routine

I have a confession to make: I don't get the exercise that I should. And I know better -- I'm supposed to be an "exercise expert." So, here come the excuses. I come from a family of couch potatoes. Our idea of family time constitutes eating a meal together, or sitting around and chatting or watching TV. Exercise is viewed as work -- another obligation in a busy day filled with other things to do.

I'm not saying that we are a lazy people. We are just the opposite. Usually, I am like the energizer bunny -- I work until the work is done. David has to remind me to sit down and relax with him in the evenings. Sometimes this annoys me because my work is not done. I'm learning that the work will still be there tomorrow -- quality time with my family deserves its rightful place in my list of priorities.

So if you're like me, where carving out a block of time to go to the gym just isn't practical for my lifestyle, how do we ensure that we get adequate exercise? The answer: You have to build it into your day. Having just relocated to New York City from the South, I have more built-in opportunities for adequate exercise:

1) I live in a third floor walk-up apartment now; when I lived down south, I lived in a second floor apartment. If you have access to stairs with your home or job, take every opportunity you can to use them. Stair climbing is great cardiovascular exercise and also builds muscles in the glutes and legs that will maintain walking and sit-to-stand strength.

2) I walk most places now. The supermarket is two blocks away, the post office 9 blocks away, the subway 4-5 blocks away. Sure, I still have my vehicle, but it has remained parked for the most part, due to snow and the convenience of local shopping. Of course, the local grocery charges too much for some items and doesn't carry others, so I braved the snowbanks and walked the mile and a half to the store. This is one disadvantage that most of us who live in suburban cities and rural areas have -- you must use your car to access basic necessities. This simple change in my walking habits has yielded a spontaneous weight loss of 5-10 lbs. Find a way to build some more waking into your day.

3) Laundry. For years I lived without a washer and dryer in the house. This required that I schlep my laundry up and down stairs, out to the car, to the laundromat, whathaveyou. "Lift with your legs, not with your back . . ." The procurement of a washer and dryer was a cause for celebration -- I believe I threw a party. I probably gained 3 lbs as a result. With a sad heart, I sold my washer/dryer when we moved and now I bring my laundry down to the corner -- not so bad. "Save your quarters." Our contemporary lifestyles emphasize convenience. I'm not say that you should sell your washer/dryer and beat your clothes on a rock. If you have machines in your home, having them downstairs from the sleeping quarters will help build exercise into your day.

4) The Subway. Sure this mode of transportation is a convenience and you get to sit down. Where's the effort in that, you ask? You have to walk to the subway, there are stairs in the subway, you have to change trains (another opportunity for climbing stairs -- David said he felt like he was getting a workout transferring from the R to the G line -- 5 flights, to be exact). Then once you get to the end of the line, you have to walk to your final destination. All great exercise!

5) Play in the snow! There has been more of it than usual around the country this winter. But be careful with this one. shoveling snow is one of the leading causes of heart attacks during winter months. The combination of the cold and exertion can make this activity dangerous. Pace yourself. Make small scoops. Keep plenty of fluids handy. Take plenty of rest breaks. And when you're done, you can build a snowman -- an activity for the whole family -- and an opportunity to bond with quality time. You won't even know you're exercising!

Posted by linda at January 28, 2011 9:34 AM

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