Forget the Gym (Plus, 8 Reasons You Need to Walk Now!)

Does that title sound like “high treason” for a spa owner and fitness professional to make, especially one who has made a career of getting women and men to exercise, stay active and learn to love movement?  It rather sounds that way, but when life crunches your time and you have absolutely no wiggle room to even think about going to the gym, it’s time to face facts.  It’s time to forget the gym, but not forget that to be healthy we must stay fit for life.

So how does one reconcile these two polar opposites?  It’s all about becoming creative.  With these simple tips you can get some much-needed exercise even when your schedule says, “There’s no time for anything.”
Remember to walk everywhere you can.  The American Heart Association, on www.startwalkingnow.org gives eight life-saving reasons to never forgo a chance to walk.  Because walking:
1. Reduces the risk of coronary heart disease
2. Improves blood pressure and blood sugar levels
3. Improves blood lipid profile
4. Maintains body weight and lower the risk of obesity
5. Enhances mental well being
6. Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
7. Reduces the risk of breast and colon cancer
8. Reduces the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetesHow quickly must one walk to achieve these eight benefits?  Generally it’s smart to walk as if you’re going to be late for an appointment.  Yet, it doesn’t all have to be this rush-rush stuff.  There are times to stroll, like after a dinner or when window shopping, but for your health, swing your arms, keep your tummy tight and stretch your legs.  You should be able to carry on a conversation, but also feel your body temperature increasing slightly.

Remember to push.  Push yourself away from a wall.   Stand about an arms distance from a wall or sturdy counter.  Keep feet in one spot and your body rigid and bending elbows only, allow your body to move toward the counter, and then push away.  Start with five and work up.  I like to do these while the coffee is dripping through the coffeemaker or the kettle is heating for my morning’s tea and have been doing 100 each day for years.  How about “joining” me?
Remember to jump for joy.  Yes, jumping rope is the cool new fitness workout for many who are crunched for time.  Great for those of us who travel a lot and don’t find the gym at hotels to be conducive for effective or fun workouts.   Jumping rope burns fat quickly. A 10-minute session burns about 100 calories and jumping is also good for toning your legs, arms, chest and shoulders..  Just pretend by jumping high enough to bring your feet up a few inches and swinging your arms in a circular motion. Try to envision a jump rope in your hands as you jump.
Remember serious gardening is a great workout.  New studies show that an hour of serious gardening (not the puttering kind) has the same advantages of running for its positive effect on muscles and use of calories.  Further when gardening, you’ll get fresh air, the joy of nurturing vegetables, shrubs and flowers, and feel relaxed.  It’s called “garden therapy” and if you want proof that gardening can do all these things, just Google those words or check with an online bookstore if you want to read more on the topic.  No garden of your own?  Check with friends who might want/need help and see if your community has a central garden where you can volunteer.
Remember to dance because it feels good.  Poet William Purkey said, “You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watching.”  So pop some show tunes into your personal device and move.   Dancing is a great active sport, especially if you’ve never been one to get out and do the activities above.  One can even “dance” sitting in a chair by moving arms, legs and feet.  If you are a caregiver for someone who is unable to stand for long periods, but wants to become more fit and stay flexible, consider sharing this “fit” secret.
Remember to play.  Find an activity you love and consider it your fitness routines, from skiing to bowling, from surfing to in-line skating.  As parents and grandparents we’re aware that play is essential for our kids.  Now there’s scientific proof that play can help adults with problem solving, creativity and relief of stress.  Check out www.psychcentral.com for more reasons to play.
Now there’s no reason to feel guilty about cancelling your gym membership.  Because now you’ve got these simple and effective ways to work out and stay fit for life.

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