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The RealAge Health Guide to Getting Fit – Part One

Posted in Workout on Tuesday, September 12, 2006 at 10:31 pm by flerly.

You want to be more active, right? But you have trouble getting started. Everyone does — don’t feel like you’re alone in that regard. In fact, over 60% of adults in the U.S. do not exercise regularly.

But that’s not a group you want to belong to, because it leads to a wealth of health woes, including an increased risk of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

The First Step
So what do you need to know to get started on the path toward fitness? Nothing, really. If you overthink and overplan, you’ll never get started. So do something today — without fail — whether it’s walking around the block, doing a few jumping jacks while you watch TV, or visiting that gym you’ve always belonged to but never used. Don’t worry if you do things right; just promise to squeeze in 10 minutes of something.

Then do the same thing tomorrow. And the next day. And if you skip a day, that’s okay. But eventually you’ll be out there doing it, a little bit, every day. And that’s a huge start.

Basic 3-Part Plan

1. Walk every day.
2. Work out a few different muscle groups 3 times a week.
3. Stretch for 5 minutes every day.

The Next Step
Eventually, though, you’re going to need to understand what you are doing, so you can refine and improve your plans and make real progress toward getting fit.

Your first goal: Try to burn 3500 calories per week. This is your RealAge workout goal. Doing so will help you grow as much as 3.7 years younger. But this is something to work toward — not to accomplish on day one. RealAge benefits begin with burning just 1000 calories per week, so start there, and then optimize at 3500 calories per week down the road. How many calories are you burning? Use this calculator to figure it out.

You can burn these calories any old way you want, but you’ll do your body the most favors if you burn them using the three types of exercise below, because each exercise provides you with a unique set of health benefits.

1. Walk About
The foundation of your program, if you don’t know where to start? Walking. Really, you could do any form of cardiovascular exercise you desire, as long as the activity is giving your lungs and heart a workout. But why not walking? It’s low-impact, so you won’t stress your joints. It’s easy to do — you don’t need a how-to video or a fitness instructor. And you can do it anywhere — at the gym on a treadmill or around your neighborhood or local park. For optimal benefits, you’d do well to walk for 30 minutes every day.

2. Lift Yourself Up
Lift yourself up a hill or some stairs, lift a pair of dumbbells, or lift yourself up off the floor, pushup-style — whatever you do, challenge your body a few days a week to overcome resistance. Resistance training is a key ingredient in getting fit and growing younger, because it builds strong muscles. This, in turn, reduces your risk of accidents and injuries and improves your bone-mineral density and metabolism. Here’s a fun and easy way to sneak body building into household chores.

3. Lengthen Your Lines
Strength is good — whether you’re talking about your heart and lungs or your muscles. But are you flexible? Staying limber is a key component of staying young. People who lack flexibility are physiologically older than their more limber peers, because a lack of flexibility increases the risk of injuries, falls, arthritis, and a host of other health problems. Stretch every day, preferably after your muscles have warmed up through walking or some other physical activity. Here are some simple stretches you can do at your desk.

These basics could be the start of a beautiful relationship between you and exercise.

Look for next week’s issue of this series to provide tricks and tips for making exercise easier.


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