The start of the New Year is supposed to be a time of celebration and anticipation of the year to come. But for many people, the New Year symbolizes the dreaded resolution.
We typically promise our bodies that we will get moving, eat right and start losing those extra pounds put on during the holidays. But somewhere along the way, we seem to get off track.
The good news is that you don’t have to run a marathon or go on a drastic diet to enjoy the health benefits of regular exercise and healthier eating.
Many people have the misconception that a vigorous workout is necessary to do the body any good. “Increasing physical activity does not have to be unpleasant or time consuming,” says Kathy Allen, M.A., R.D., CSO, and Director of Nutrition Therapy at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL. “There are simple ways to incorporate exercise in our lives without making major lifestyle changes.”
The act of exercising can be as simple as dancing, gardening, painting a room, taking stairs instead of elevators, taking a brisk walk during your lunch hour, or parking on the far side of the parking lot instead of circling to get a space up front.
The American College of Sports Medicine says a person does not have to be continuously active for 30 minutes to reap health benefits, although that should be the goal. Those who are presently inactive can begin by adding small amounts of activity into each day and gradually building up to about 30 minutes a day.
“The ultimate goal is to reach and sustain activity for 30 minutes a day to really benefit from the exercise,” says Allen. “The more active we are now, the more active we remain. Exercise delays the natural aging process by working the muscles and keeping us from becoming less functional as we grow older.”
If you are thinking about procrastinating with this year’s resolution—think twice! Moderate physical activity and a nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables and grains, as well as more fish and less red meat, can substantially reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. It will never get easier than it is today.
If your plans for 2011 include getting healthier and slimmer, here are a few tips that should help you reach your goal:
- Eat a healthy breakfast, every day, so you’re not starved by lunch time or tempted to munch on high-calorie snacks.
- Plan ahead for social occasions—don't hit the table on an empty stomach. Eat a bit of fresh fruit or vegetables and drink a calorie-free beverage 15 to 20 minutes before the party.
- Avoid "all or nothing" thinking. Instead of trying to avoid “forbidden foods” entirely, have small portions of everything you love to eat, even if it is just a bite or two.
- Make time to do some physical activity each day—staying on track with exercise not only helps you to maintain your stamina and burn calories, it also is a great way to manage stress.
- Start taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Find an accountability partner and make a commitment together to be more active.
- Make time with friends to do things other than eat—go to a movie together, take the kids to the zoo, spend a day at the park, or go to amuseum.
Article courtesy of Moffitt Cancer Center. For information about advances in the treatment of cancer, second opinions, cancer prevention, screening, clinical trials or support groups, call 1-888-MOFFITT (663-3488). Or visit InsideMofffitt.com and click on “Cancer Answers” to email your questions.