“Physical fitness is one of the most important keys to a healthy body and the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”
—President John F. Kennedy
Run. Walk. Bend. Lift. Swim. Cycle. Whatever you do, as the famous shoe manufacturer once said, “Just Do It!” Tomorrow is today and it’s time to get fit. May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month… No more excuses! Your health depends on it. Your life depends on it!
Sedentary lifestyles pose a greater heart disease risk to women over 30 than smoking – yes, smoking! – obesity or high blood pressure, according to a new health study. It’s been all over the news for a week now, and if that’s not enough to scare you, there’s more. The dangers of an inactive lifestyle are being underestimated and deserve to be a much higher public health concern. Since we’ve been told for years the importance of making fitness part of our lives, the time is now to motivate, activate and get fit!
Long before this study came out, President Obama created the President’s Challenge – which I suggest you check out for great physical fitness tips and health updates – because our country is experiencing one of the worst eras for lack of physical fitness, obesity and heart disease. That’s also why First Lady Michelle Obama created Let’s Move – America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids – so that we can get our daughters moving early in their lives, while teaching them the importance of being physically fit for a lifetime.
The younger you start a regular exercise program, the better your health can be as you age. Of course, you can start to get fit at any age! Just remember to please see your doctor if you plan to go from sedentary to a new fitness plan. And, in case you need to be reminded, as we all do from time to time, here’s why staying active and eating well is so important.
- Health Matters
Regular physical activity along with a healthy diet can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels while reducing the risk of illnesses such as Type 2 Diabetes or heart disease. It’s also been shown to reduce the possibility of getting some types of cancers.
- Build Bones
Combined with a fat-free diet and other foods rich in calcium, exercise is necessary to build strong, healthy bones and can help slow age-related bone loss. When you’re active, your muscles pull on your bones, strengthening them, which is why weight-bearing.
- The Three Es
After a workout, you’ll feel energized, exuberant and exhilarated. Additionally, staying active reduces anxiety and depression, improves self-esteem and helps manage stress. Remember the more you stay active, the more you’ll WANT to stay active. It’s a process and you’ll get there – literally, one step at a time.
- Expand Your Network
Exercising is a great way to have fun, make new friends and spend quality time with family. Plus, you have the opportunity to meet new contacts at the gym or when you’re out for your regular walk. As you know by now, every social opportunity is a networking opportunity which could change your life forever.
- Muscle Memory
Yes, we’re all busy and maybe you’ve let your workout slide. I’ve been there myself, so I empathize. However, muscles have memory and will easily get back in shape after you resume your activities. Keep in mind that it’s important to tone your muscles because they tend to diminish quicker as we age.
- Smart Brain
Being active gets your blood flowing. It improves circulation and stimulates your brain cells thereby increasing intellectual capacity and creative ability throughout your entire life. And, since women are living longer than ever before, it’s imperative to maintain our thought processes well into our 90s; and, yes, exercise is the way to do it!
My SoulCycle team
In addition, NAPW Foundation philanthropic partner, the American Heart Association offers excellent advice for what you can do to prevent heart disease at each stage of your life. Below are some suggestions for all age groups that I also incorporate into my healthy lifestyle, not just because I am the National Volunteer for the AHA, but because they really work!
Choose a healthy eating plan.
The food you eat can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke. Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars and sweeteners. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, fish (preferably oily fish – at least twice per week), nuts, legumes and seeds. Try eating some meals without meat. Select fat-free and low-fat dairy products and lean meats and poultry (skinless). Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
Be physically active.
You can slowly work up to at least 2½ hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (like brisk walking) every week or an hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity (such as jogging or running) or a combination of both every week. Additionally, on two or more days a week you need muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest shoulders and arms).
If you need additional motivation, check out Ernestine Shepherd, now 77, the oldest woman bodybuilder, according to the Guinness Book of Records, who started getting in shape in her 50s! She’s absolutely amazing!
Listen, ladies, it’s up to you to take control of your lives. If you want to sit, sit and sit some more, you have no one to blame but yourself for your poor health. Get moving, now! Just get off your butt and start walking NOW. It’s that simple. And, yes, I can hear you – you’re making excuses – you don’t have time, blah, blah, blah! Well, exercise is not about having time, it’s about making time. And, the time is NOW!
As I always say… she who has health has hope… and she who has hope, has everything!
Gotta go… I’m off to SoulCycle. See you there!
How do you plan to make fitness part of your life? Share your comments below.