Lifestyle Practice Three – Get Physically Active

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Today we are going to look at lifestyle practice three which is to get physically active.

In article one we started to look at the Lifestyle Practices essential for a healthy lifestyle, in two we looked at the importance of drinking water and three the need to sleep 8 hours nightly.

These are the things you need to do to ensure avoiding getting ill as well as to take back your health.

I’m sorry to start with an ominous warning. Those of you who are living a sedentary lifestyle are risking your health. Alas that probably applies to many of you. There are clear physical and emotional benefits associated with regularly doing moderate physical activity, yet most of you are probably not getting enough of this important and life sustaining behaviour to reduce the risk of various illnesses. Today’s message is simple, you have to get physically active.

Evidence is clear that regular moderate exercise helps to prevent a whole range of illnesses and helps dramatically anyone trying to take back their health. In fact there is a clear relationship between regular physical exercise and a reduction in the risk of death from many causes.

You see there’s no getting away from the fact that being active and doing some exercise is absolutely crucial for your health. But today I’m not telling you to go into a gym or do an exercise class, although these are great options as well. So is swimming as would be playing sport. But for those of you leading very sedentary lifestyles I can assure you walking is a fantastic form of exercise. Truthfully whatever your level of fitness walking is a great form of exercise.

Often, we put taking care of our health at the bottom of our “to do” list. Well I’m advising, strongly, that taking care of yourself needs to be your number one job, and you need to be your number one priority. Exercise is one of the biggest must-dos. No matter how long it has been since you last exercised. We all have to start somewhere and at sometime. Well we do if our health matters, and no one can afford not to believe it really does matter.

“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” Mark Twain

You were designed to be active. Today’s environment has made it too easy to be sedentary. We expend less energy by using cars, internet, remote controls, mobile phones and computers, all of which create the couch potato syndrome. They seem to negate our need to move. These lead to a low rate of activity which in turn leads to fewer calories being burned and a slowdown of your metabolism. We can even do our food shopping online so there’s no need to even walk around your supermarket and push the weighed down trolley. Well guess what, these modern advancements have without a doubt led to a deterioration in many people’s health. I’m sorry to say they’ve made many of you lazy, and this is a recipe for disaster.

So enough of the negativity, let’s look you can be doing.

If your goal is to feel better and live a longer and healthier life, getting physically active goes a remarkably long way.

Being active is good for you in lots of ways – it can help to build your muscles, keep your bones strong, burn fat and keep your heart healthy. The benefits are numerous.

• It’s beneficial for your health
• Boost your immune system
• Improves blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood fat levels
• Better endurance
• Increased energy
• Improved heart health
• Reduces cholesterol build up
• Increases lung capacity
• Invigorates us
• Improves circulation and digestion
• Tones our muscles
• Building strength, endurance and flexibility
• Strengthens our bones
• Makes us feel healthier
• Helps us to sleep more soundly
• Reduces tension
• Drastically reducing your risks of heart disease; diabetes; high blood pressure; colon cancer
• Helps to control body weight
• And loads of other health benefits

It’s never too late to start exercising. And you really don’t need to start with anything too taxing or complicated, walking with make a big difference to all of you.

It’s time to get walking.

Go to your local park, down the beach or simply walk around your neighbourhood. Whether its sunny or raining, wear the appropriate clothing, put one foot in front of the other and off you go.

Best still is Power Walking.

Power Walking is a low-impact exercise that is simply brisk walking done with powerful arm action. To qualify as power walking, as opposed to jogging or running, at least one foot must be in contact with the ground at all times, walking at a speed at the upper end of the natural range for the walking gait, typically BETWEEN 5km/h (3mph) and 8km/h (5mph). You should walk fast, but not so fast that you feel uncomfortable, you should get your heart rate up but you should never be out of breath. Walk regularly, and within 3 weeks, your pace and endurance will increase.

Let me give you a brief description of the techniques required for power walking.

• Use good posture. Walk tall, look forward, (not at the ground) gazing about 20 feet ahead. Your chin should be level and your head up back straight and body aligned.
• Keep your chest raised, and shoulders relaxed (shoulders down, back and relaxed).
• Bend your arms in slightly less than a 90-degree angle. Cup your hands gently (close your hands in relaxed fist). Swing arms front to back (not side to side – arms should not cross your body.) Swing your arms faster and your feet will follow. Don’t swing your arms too far away from your body.
• Suck your abdominal muscles in and up to tighten them and suck in your buttocks. Hold your butt muscles taut and contracted as you walk by pretending to squeeze a five-pound note between them (it’s silly, but it works) as you walk.
• Push off with your toes. Stride out, but don’t lengthen your stride so much that your knees lock, which can lead to injury. Concentrate on landing on your heel, rolling through the instep and pushing off with your toes. Use the natural spring of your calf muscles to propel you forward.
• Breathe naturally. As you walk, take deep, rhythmic breaths, to get the maximum amount of oxygen through your system. Walk fast enough that your breathing is increased yet you are not out of breath.
• On inclines, slightly shorten your stride, lean forward and pump your arms higher.
• Enjoy your walk

How often should you walk to get physically active?

According to guidelines from the UK Chief Medical Officers, we should aim to take part in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. However, over one in four women and one in five men do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week, so are classified as ‘inactive’. In fact, physical inactivity is the fourth largest cause of disease and disability in the UK.

My suggestion, as a starting point is walk 3 times a week for 50 minutes each time.

So please, do your health a favour and get walking

This is Larry Lewis

This article is part of a series and these are the others in the series so far:

Lifestyle Practices Essential For A Healthy Lifestyle

Lifestyle Practice One: Drink at least 2 litres of water daily

Lifestyle Practice Two: Sleep for 8 hours a night

photo credit: Ian D. Keating Caleta De Las Monias via photopin (license)

Take Back Your Health Coaching
About the author: Larry Lewis
My name is Larry Lewis, Health & Wellness Life Coach, Founder of Healthy Lifestyles Living, contributor to the Huffington Post, recently featured in the Sunday Mail Newspaper and somebody who went from being an owner of a chain of gyms and fitness fanatic, to a visually impaired overweight and incredibly sick person. Read about my illness to wellness story.

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