Whether you have never walked a mile in your life or just haven’t done so in years, it’s never too late to get your body into shape. Easier said than done, right? So how do you go from being an inactive channel surfer to a spokesperson for Nike? By facing fitness fears like these:
Wrong. Exercise helps your heart. Physical activity makes your heart stronger and teaches it how to work more efficiently. In fact, heart disease patients are prescribed physical therapy as part of their treatment. In addition, exercise boosts levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind) and helps control blood pressure and blood-sugar levels.
Not if you warm up and cool down. About five minutes of walking or light cycling followed by stretching will help get your heart ready to exercise. Do the same after your workout to help prevent post-exercise aches.
And here’s something else to consider: You are more prone to hurt yourself if you don’t exercise. Physical activity helps your coordination and balance and reduces your risk of fall-related injury.
When it comes to exercise, there’s no reason to be self-conscious. People who care about their health are energetic, optimistic and an inspiration to others. And most of them don’t look like the actors in health-club commercials. If you are afraid of what others will think, exercise with friends.
What about the local YMCA? Or your living room? To prevent boredom, rent exercise tapes from the video store. Better yet, pick walking as your exercise of choice and invest in a good pair of sneakers. Find a mall-walking club in your area. It will provide protection against the weather and a community of fitness friends.
At least 30 minutes, most days a week, is all you need. To improve the chance that you’ll stick to your exercise regimen, decide how to fit it into your schedule. Incorporate an after-dinner walk into your evening routine. In the mornings, bike to the store to get the newspaper instead of having it delivered.