January 08, 2002
The underlying benefits of being physically fit are greater than just a trim body. Sylvia Bell shows you seven easy steps to start your fitness routine.
It's summer. You want to be lean and fit. You know that you should pay more attention to your health, get more exercise and eat more carefully. And you also know that crash dieting doesn't work for more than a week.
So now is the time to take a different look at getting fit and keeping to a regular fitness training routine.
Cora Bernardinatti is a university qualified fitness trainer. She believes there are many benefits of being physically fit that go well beyond just looking trim - although this is still a strong motivating factor.
According to Cora, the mental and spiritual pluses gained from regular exercise can be more significant than the physical advantages.
Cora sees a holistic improvement in people's health when they take up fitness training. "The mind, body and soul are equally important in a person's well-being", says Cora. "The tangible benefits of being physically fit are that a person feels physically better, they look better and mentally they are more relaxed and in control".
As a personal trainer, Cora sees three distinct benefits of exercise that, in her view, are more important than just improved physical appearance.
The first major benefit is improved self esteem. "When people look good, their self esteem is lifted. When you exercise, your blood flow is improved, your skin looks better, you control your body fat - you generally look and feel better about yourself". This type of positive feedback helps people to maintain a healthier lifestyle, make better choices about their diet and control unhealthy habits.
The second benefit is that the person is actively managing their health. "With regular exercise, the person is looking after the inside, delaying the aging process and avoiding many of the diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle, such as obesity and heart disease", says Cora. Her aim is to get people to adopt a healthy lifestyle, and not necessarily to become fitness fanatics. "I love working with people and helping them to change their lifestyle for the better - they start to see how they can improve their own health".
The third benefit, according to Cora, is the "time out" factor. "It's this 'me time' that is so important in stress relief. I see this with my corporate clients - they really need regular 'time out' to help balance the stresses of their work and lack of time. They are people with high pressure jobs, work long hours and put in a lot of effort into doing things for other people". For busy people, Cora observes that fitness training and "me time" are great ways to help relax the mind and keep a feeling of control in their lives.
Cora tells of one client who has made a major health turnaround in just a few months. "My client is a 50 year old woman from an Australian - Greek family, living a traditional Greek lifestyle. When she came to me she was overweight with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and wanted to lose weight. After three months has lost 5 kilograms. She has now set goals for herself and exercises everyday - she loves it".
Cora says the most important thing to remember is to make exercise a habit. "It is not so much about the type of exercise you do. Keeping fit is about making exercise an enjoyable habit that you will maintain throughout your life."
According to Tom Sweeney of the North Shore Heart Research Foundation in Sydney, regular exercise is essential in combating heart disease.
"The benefits of exercise to a person's health are immediate. Exercise helps with weight loss, improves cardiovascular circulation, reduces cholesterol and leads to an improved sense of well being", says Tom.
The Foundation's education team runs exercise programs for patients who have suffered a heart incident and for those with a history of heart disease in their family. "We recommend walking or swimming for at least 20 minutes each day, starting with a short walm up. Walking is probably the best exercise as it is accessible to everyone, can be done anywhere and does not require any special equipment".
The National Heart Foundation recommends regular exercise to help prevent obesity, heart disease and osteoporosis. According to National Heart Foundation, the benefits of exercise include weight control, healthier cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lessening your risk of heart attack.
So the next time you feel the urge to shed a few kilos and shake up that sluggish metabolism, remind yourself about the extra benefits of being fit and exercising regularly - great health, improved well being, relaxed mind and some "time out" for your inner self.
Start today and make regular exercise part of your life-long routine and you will soon feel the benefits of your healthy habit.
BREAK OUT BOX
Kick off your fitness program with these seven easy steps.
1. Begin today. Summer is a great time to start your fitness program, when you can get outdoors and take advantage of the warmer weather. Daylight saving also means that you have more time before and after work to enjoy exercise.
2. Keep it simple. Start with simple exercises, such as walking, swimming, riding a bike, treadmill or fitness class - just do what you enjoy.
3. Set goals. Decide how often and when you can exercise. Start with realistic goals that you can achieve. Aim for three to five sessions each week, for twenty minutes per session. Increase your exercise levels once you have a regular routine.
4. Make it a habit. Keep your exercise routine simple to start with, and you are more likely to continue on a weekly basis. Exercise will become an enjoyable habit.
5. Plan your exercise time. Mark your exercise times in your diary and plan your weekly activities to fit with your exercise commitments.
6. Exercise with a friend. You will increase your motivation and commitment if you exercise with a friend, join a group or fitness class.
7. Enjoy what you do. Try different activities and find the ones that are enjoyable and fun for you.
By Sylvia Bell
Reprinted with permission from Editforce