By: Jean Johnson for Reflux1
“When we used to hike the Grand Canyon back in our twenties and thirties and forties, we could eat anything and stay lean,” said Sandy DePew. “Basically it’s the old you’ve got to burn more than you take in type of deal, and these days it’s way more of a challenge than it was back then.”
|Implement the Activity Factor:
Get the heart rate up for 24 minutes three times a week any way that’s fun – brisk walking, running, biking, swimming or dancing
Try some isometric holds on any muscle while waiting on the elevator or in line
In the morning do some ab work before tossing off the covers. Then flip over and do a few modified push ups before getting out of bed
Do some shoulder rolls and lower back arching in the shower
While waiting for the coffee, hang gently over your toes and stretch out each vertebra
Point and flex and do some ankle and wrist rolls while watching the news
Take up a sport that’s fun
Cruise on down to a salsa club or try Argentine tango
In the throws of an epidemic of overweight and obesity, Americans might take a tip from DePew and plan a hike. On the other hand, even a brisk 45-minute walk around the neighborhood can burn up to 300 calories.
In short, anything’s better than nothing. The Journal of the American Medical Association noted that between 1991 and 2000 Americans experienced a 49 percent increase in the prevalence of obesity, a figure that, according to director of the division of nutrition and physical activity at the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, William Deitz, M.D., “is a unique observation in the annals of chronic disease.”
So while there’s much to be said for cardio and strength training routines that may or may not involve a fitness club, making a number of lifestyle changes can help pump up the activity factor and take off the pounds. Parking further away, taking the stairs, standing up when we’re talking on the phone, not to mention wearing comfortable shoes so we don’t mind taking those extra steps are all habits that can add up.
“What’s typical for me right now, especially now that I’m older,” said one woman in Portland, Ore., “is that if I don’t exercise, I will not lose weight. Also, I feel so much better when I stick to my routine because the endorphins get going and help stave off depression. It’s not easy, of course, and I’m the first one to slack off when some distraction comes along. But I always get back on track eventually and it pays off.”
Her ideal routine includes 30-45 minutes on her home treadmill five days a week. Then she alternates 20 minutes of strength training with an exercise band one day, with a half hour of yoga postures designed to keep her spine, hips and shoulders flexible the next.
As a baby boomer, the good news is that researchers and physicians increasingly agree that even raising activity levels modest amounts can have significant influence on health and longevity. For example, a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health showed middle aged individuals at high risk for diabetes were able to cut their risk by half by implementing moderate activity and eating programs.
The problem is, observes Deitz, is that we are a society that spends our time in front of TVs, computer, and video games, not to mention in cars. So instead of getting our exercise as a natural part of our daily lives like our grandmothers who walked to the store for grocery shopping might have, we have to consciously plug an activity program into our schedules. Perhaps it’s this orchestrated part that makes it so difficult. Whatever the case, it’s clear that as a nation we need to get out of our chairs and at the very least, dance around a bit in the kitchen.