26 Practical Steps to a Healthier You: Exercise At Least 4 Times Per Week {Week 11}

For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.

Exercise At Least 4 Times Per Week

You’ve probably heard every argument in the book about why you should regularly exercise, yet nothing has changed. So rather than bog you down with more inconsequential facts about the benefits of exercise, I want to give you some practical helps to get started TODAY with regular exercise.

DEVELOP A FITNESS DREAM

In his book The Daniel Plan, Rick Warren talks about developing a fitness dream. This refers to a realistic but challenging goal you would like to meet in the near future. What is your big fitness dream?

*Run a marathon
*Do 100 consecutive push-ups
*Hike up a mountain
*Complete a 5K race
*Ride your bicycle across the country
*Join a softball team
*Become a Zumba instructor
*Lose 45 pounds
*Finish a Color Run
*Master Pilates
*Learn to Water Ski

Once you have identified your fitness dream, the next step is to map it out.
First, identify the benefits to accomplishing your dream:
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________

Next, identify the obstacles to achieving your fitness dream:
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________

Finally, list the solutions to overcoming the obstacles listed above:
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________

Here is an example from my own life:

*MY FITNESS DREAM IS TO RUN A FULL HALF-MARATHON (13.1 MILES) WITHOUT STOPPING ON SEPTEMBER 12TH, 2015, IN 1 HOUR AND 50 MINUTES.*

Benefits:
1. It will show God’s goodness and healing power by finishing the race.
2. I will be able to bond with my sisters by running this race with them.
3. I will be forced to depend upon God’s strength through training all the way through to the finish line.

Obstacles:
1. Lack of discipline or laziness in training.
2. Feeling sore or fatigued from Lyme Disease.

Solutions:
1. Pray, pray, pray!
2. Make a training schedule and stick to it.
3. Use essential oils when I’m sore or tired.
4. Lean on God and His strength.

run

RESULT:
I finished the race without stopping in 1 hour 55 minutes and 7 seconds. Even though I didn’t quite meet my goal, I was satisfied and believe God was glorified through it.

MAKE EXERCISE FUN

Exercise doesn’t have to be a drag. If it is, perhaps you need to try something more enjoyable. Here are some ideas to get you started:

*Racquetball
*Swimming
*Rollerblading
*Ice skating
*Bicycling
*Dancing
*Badminton
*Baseball/softball
*Soccer
*Snowshoeing
*Table tennis
*Trampoline jumping
*Jump roping
*Fencing
*Frisbee golf
*Handball
*Bowling
*Cross-country skiing
*Horseback riding
*Rowing
*Volleyball
*Wii Fit
*Zumba
*Basketball
*Walking
*Running/jogging

Which of these would you be willing to try?

My sisters and I before my half-marathon race.
My sisters and I before my half-marathon (one of them was 6 months pregnant!)

AVOID THE “SITTING DISEASE”

Have you ever heard of the “sitting disease”? Apparently this is the phrase experts have coined to describe the habit of the average American sitting for about 7.7 hours to 15 hours a day without moving! Researchers are just beginning to discover the ill effects such a habit has on the human body.

For example, when you are seated for long periods of time lipoprotein lipase (a fat-burning enzyme) loses its ability to be absorbed, meaning your body loses its ability to efficiently burn fat. It is also associated with elevated blood glucose and LDL cholesterol levels.

Another study found that sitting for more than three or four hours at a time increases risk of disease. The same study noted that individuals who moved even a little bit during these long sitting periods improved their health significantly, even if they just fidgeted in their chairs or took quick coffee breaks.

The Mayo Clinic found that sitting for up to three or four consecutive hours is equivalent to smoking a pack-and-a-half of cigarettes per day! Further, couch potatoes have an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

EXERCISE IS MEDICINE

Exercise is great medicine! Here are some of the varied benefits of regular exercise:

-Improves mood
-Increases energy
-Enhances flexibility
-Reduces anxiety, stress, and depression
-Boosts productivity
-Improves posture
-Promotes better sleep
-Supports weight loss/management
-Strengthens joints
-Enhances intimacy
-Reduces Cravings
-Improves Memory

Personally, I exercise regularly to receive increased energy and to improve my mood. I have a chronic illness that affects both my energy levels and my mood and I have found exercise to counteract the affects of these symptoms more effectively than any other treatment. The best part is, it doesn’t require a huge time commitment to reap the benefits of exercise. I have found a two mile run 4-6 days a week to be the perfect amount of exercise to meet my needs. One study found that individuals who exercised at least 8 minutes a day (one hour a week) were less likely to be treated for depression. You know your body best- YOU decide what works for you. If your desire is to lose weight, your exercise regimen may look a little different from mine. That’s okay. Find something that works for you and stick with it.

MAKE WALKING A PRIORITY

One way to add extra exercise into your daily routine is to walk more. Do you live close by to the post office, library, or grocery store? If so, accomplish those errands on foot rather than by vehicle. If you don’t live within walking distance to the grocery store, or if you have too many items on your list to carry home, just park further away from the entrance to add a few extra steps to your day. Most people drive around the whole parking lot trying to find the closest parking space, but what if you started parking as far away as you could (within reason) to gain the benefits of exercise? It’s a small step (pun intended), but it will make a positive difference.

A family hike
A family hike

Here are some positive effects of walking 30 minutes 4 times per week taken from Prevention Magazine:

-It can add nearly 2 years to your life!
-Your risk of diabetes can be lowered 29%!
-It can protect your memory.
-It can reduce depression symptoms.
-It can drastically lower your risk for heart disease.
-It can reduce your risk of stroke by 30%!
-It can reduce the risk of hip fractures by 21%!
-It can help you lose weight.
-It can help preserve your hearing.
-It builds mitochondria-rich muscle.
-It blasts fat out of your tissues.

Exercising with friends hold you accountable and can be more fun!
Exercising with friends hold you accountable                         and can be more fun!

Wow. This is a mere 2 hour commitment per week, and yet it has such far-reaching effects! Are you ready to make your health a priority by exercising at least 4 times per week? I’d love to hear how it goes for you!

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