Beyond Healthy Eating: Focus On Exercise, Too

For many of us, finding the time to exercise is a challenge. If you've never enjoyed physical exercise, you may be secretly glad to have an excuse like a busy schedule or competing priorities for avoiding the gym. Others of you may feel overwhelmed with your daily responsibilities and just cannot fit one more activity into your day. Regardless of your situation, remember that if you are trying to lose weight, exercise is just as important as diet.

Tonight while my son watched a video with me, he jumped to his feet, grabbed my hand, and started to dance. As I joined him, jumping and moving around, I was struck by the fact that even this simple bit of fun, sustained long enough, is an aerobic activity.

You see? Exercise happens. And no matter what your excuse, exercise is possible. You may not get to the gym to work out with the newest equipment, but you can seize opportunities closer to home to get moving. The recommended amount of physical activity for adults is at least 30 minutes of moderately intense activity most days of the week. For children and teenagers, it's more -- 60 minutes most days of the week.

These tips may help you increase your physical activity as part of your daily routine.

  • Whenever possible, take the stairs. If you can't handle all the flights of stairs, climb some, then switch to the elevator. Soon you'll be able to handle all the flights!
  • Park at the far end of the parking lot instead of hunting for a space by the door. You'll be surprised at how much a short walks helps increase the amount of calories you burn. (You'll save gasoline, too.)
  • Play with your children or your pets. They enjoy moving around and being active more than you think. Let them help you to get more active.
  • Limit screen time, both for yourself and for your family. Time spent in front of the computer or the television is time spent sitting still.
  • If you do watch TV, try to exercise while you watch. Walk on a treadmill or lift weights.
  • Need a place to walk? If your own neighborhood doesn't fit the bill, consider using the local mall or a high school running track. The mall is especially good during the cold or wet weather and works well if you have a stroller to push.
  • Consider using your lunch break to walk and talk with a friend. This will make the lunch hour more enjoyable and you'll be getting some exercise at the same time.

Finally, before you start an exercise program, it's always advisable to check with your health care provider, especially if you suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or any other chronic disease.