Happy, Healthy Moving! This week is all about adding in that crucial component of being fully fit – exercising. We all have to drink and eat and sleep everyday to survive, but in today’s modern, technology-driven society, we somehow can easily find ways to avoid moving our bodies. We work in offices where we sit at desks all day long, we cozy up on couches in front of the television screen, we drive cars to go here to there, and we even sit inside coffee shops glued to our laptops, our tablets, and our smartphones. We are all guilty of it, it’s part of our evolution. But we all must make a conscious effort to give our bodies what we still need at a fundamental level, which is daily movement for healthy circulation. Every little things counts, anything is better than nothing, and the more something appeals to you, the more likely you are to follow through. Start slowly and consult your physician before making any major changes to your exercise routine. Here are our top 10 important tips for incorporating Exercise into your life: 1. Walk it all off. Next to standing (as opposed to sitting), walking is the most basic form of movement you can do more of. Experts recommend getting in at least 10,000 steps every single day, which you can track with a pedometer. Many people have a misconception that you have to be running to be “exercising”. But that’s just not true. Some experts even believe that walking is healthier for you than running because you put less stress on your joints. By just giving it some more thought and paying attention, you may be able to add on extra steps than what you normally do. You don’t have to “power walk” with every step either, just strolling or meandering more all adds up. 2. Avoid the “laziest” course. For example, if you are parking you car in a lot, don’t look for the closest space to your destination. Park further away so you have to walk a little more to get there. If you only have a few floors to go up or down in a building, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Don’t take “shortcuts” if they are offered unless you are really pressed for time. Just make that a rule for yourself in general. 3. Almost everything is better outdoors. Being in nature changes us. There are just as many benefits mentally and spiritually as physically to spend time grounded to the earth. Even in suburban areas, there are numerous studies that prove just gazing upon trees and flowers and the sky improves our mood, our outlook, and our attitude. On a sunny day you get the extra bonus of healing sunshine on your skin. On a rainy day, you get the extra bonus of nourishing water all around you. Make time for hiking, by yourself or with your family or friends. It’s amazing all-around exercise, but can also be such a fun experience with a group discovering and appreciating our environment. 4. Adopt a dog or volunteer at an animal shelter. This may seem really specific, but there’s a reason. Having another commitment outside of yourself is a great motivator. Dogs need exercise and so do you. Dogs waiting for new homes in shelters need exercise and so do you. You often will see parents with very young children pushing strollers in neighborhoods everywhere too. They are using their desire to give their child some time outside to get their daily walking or running or other activity in. It’s the same idea: have a secondary reason to support your primary reason to exercise for yourself. 5. Use the buddy system. Partnerships lead to greater accountability. Whether you have someone you regularly meet at the gym, or someone you play one-on-one basketball with, it enhances the experience too. If you’re finding it difficult to stay disciplined about your exercise plans, this particularly comes in handy. Pick someone you admire for their dedication already and ask if you can join them. Or take the idea of partnering to the dance floor or in a high-energy dance-based class. It’s no mystery why humans are attracted to team sports either. It’s engaging, competition can spur you to greater feats, and you’re more focused on the details of how you play than what your body is getting out of it. If you appreciate the extra camaraderie that comes with it, join a team! 6. Mix it up. There’s aerobic and there’s anaerobic exercising. And we all need both. For most people, low to moderate exercise or exertion is generally aerobic. Aerobic exercise burns fat and strengthens the heart and lungs. (The most common term for this is doing “cardio”.) A lot of these exercises can be done on machines at home or in the gym or outdoors (walking/running on a treadmill, using a stairclimber or elliptical, or a stationary/recumbent bike or actual regular biking) or as part of an existing sport. Anaerobic exercise helps build lean muscle mass. Calories are burned more efficiently in bodies that have more muscle. Anaerobic exercise is especially helpful for weight management in that it helps to burn more calories even in a body at rest. Anaerobic exercise can also help build endurance and fitness levels. Anaerobic exercise is very high intensity or at your maximum level of exertion. Examples include sprinting and weight lifting. Consider using intervals, aerobic with some bursts of anaerobic exercise mixed in periodically to improve weight loss and overall fitness. And if you’re looking for a low-impact option to protect your joints, try swimming. 7. Flexibility is very valuable. Stretching is the deliberate lengthening of muscles in order to increase muscle flexibility and joint range of motion. Coordination and balance will help keep you mobile and less prone to injury from falls, especially as you get older. Stretching first thing in the morning is a great way to “waken” up your muscles, and get them ready for the day. Yoga is perhaps one of the most well-known practices for gaining more flexibility, but there is also Pilates. Yoga and Pilates are both forms of exercise that engage your mind and body and can be found at almost any gym or wellness center, or done at home with a book, DVD or online tutorial. The basic forms of both exercises require only a mat and adequate floor space. There are many types or schools of Yoga, but the most common type in the United States today is hatha, which focuses on physical poses and breathing technique. The exercises in Pilates are based primarily around core strengthening and toning and flexibility and indirectly tied to Yoga and martial arts (another incredible way of exercising in itself). Pilates referred to his system of exercise as “contrology” because it requires intense concentration for bodily control. 8. You don’t have to exercise “constantly” to improve your health. Consistency is far more important! In fact, again experts agree that moderate exercise (even just purposeful walking if you aren’t able to do anything else) 3-5 times a week for at least 30-45 minutes is super beneficial to keeping your immune system in top form. We have found though that if you set the bar a little bit higher and make a plan to exercise in some way for at least an hour 6-7 days a week, you are more likely to establish a pattern for yourself that you stick with. You’ll feel something lacking during the days you don’t exercise. Build up gradually to that goal but don’t “underdo” it by making your expectations of your self too low. You are more powerful than you know! 9. Give the body a break in the right way, don’t “overdo” it. Most fitness experts advise alternating between days with aerobic/anaerobic workouts and other strength/resistance training. Your muscles need time to recover. Strength training is also called resistance training because it involves strengthening and toning your muscles by contracting them against a resisting force. There are two types of resistance training: Isometric resistance involves contracting your muscles against a non-moving object, such as against the floor in a push-up. Isotonic strength training involves contracting your muscles through a range of motion as in weight lifting. They both improve your balance and strengthen your bones. Pushups, jump squats, lunges, and mountain climbing are all examples of exercises that require no equipment either and provide strength training. Always take some time to warm up and cool down after strength training. 10. Fit the small things into the bigger picture. Everyone can do at least something everyday that adds up over time. Even if you miss that one team practice, that middle of the week gym workout, or that weekend hike, you can still do something small. Keep a medicine ball near your favorite spot to sit at home. Lift it over your head and back in metered repetitions while catching up on your recorded show. Keep a resistance band in your desk at work. Do repetitions with your arms as a break during the day. Or keep a jumprope in the car and find moments here and there to use it. Next week will be Week 4 of our new Team RLEI Reset Program to Live Amazing. Just eating a little bit better and moving a bit more should have you feeling a lot better. Exercise can become just as important to all of us as breathing and we will definitely reap the rewards of it.