A map of your abdominal muscles

Credit: healthandadvice.com

     Your health is one of the few things you have control over that pertains to your life span, happiness, and success.  However, physical health is not addressed solely through healthier lunch food or dieting.  Exercising can be something you enjoy, and it should be.  If that's news to you, perhaps you should read on. 

     Health and Fitness often evoke images of scales and treadmills, but that stereotype-- the same one that often scares people away from addressing their physical health-- only scratches the surface of what "healthy" means.  There are plenty of ways to improve health without being miserable or, heaven forbid, "stepping foot on a treadmill."


1. Find what you enjoy

     Surprise!  There is no known rule that says exercise takes a certain form.  If every teenager doesn't want to become an engineer or doctor, then certainly: not every teenager wants to run for exercise. 

     Plenty of different activities can help to tone muscles, support a healthy weight, and feel good about oneself.  You can try swimming laps at a local pool, walking the dog, lifting weights, cycling around town, canoeing or kayaking, dancing, running, or rock climbing.  Although you will probably find one thing that really clicks for you, it's also important to mix it up and try different exercises.  For instance, if you enjoy lifting weights, try swimming once in a while to work those arm and leg muscles in a different way.  Not only will this help keep you feeling positive about exercising, but it will also tone different muscles and give you an improved overall health.


2. Mix it up

     Like I mentioned above, it's important to switch up what activity you are doing.  In the same way, it's important to switch up the duration and intensity of the particular exercise you are doing.  Going to the gym and working out on the elliptical for 30 min. can seem very daunting because it is a big chunk of time, and you will most likely not have a lot of fun.  Instead, try doing intervals.  Go fast for two min. and then recover by going slowly for one or two min.  As you improve, you can adjust your interval times.  You can also adjust them depending on how difficult of a workout you want that day.  On a hard day, your intervals could be: three min. on and one min. off.  But on an easy day, they could be: two min. on and two min. off.  Using intervals works for a myriad of exercises: running, cycling, rowing, and even dancing.

     Another way to mix up your exercises, is to alter your duration and effort on different days.  When you exercise, your muscles are initially broken down, and once they recover they become stronger.  However, if you are physically exercising the same muscles strenuously every day, your muscles begin to feel very fatigued because they are given no chance to recover.  In this case, it may become a lot harder to run that three miles, or make it through a dance class.  To prevent muscle fatigue, make sure you take every other day to exercise for a little less time, and with a little less effort.  You will know by trial and error if your effort levels on your recovery days are sufficiently easy enough.  If you begin to feel muscle fatigue and overall lack of motivation that you would not normally feel, back off for a few days or try a different exercise.


3. Incorporate exercise into your everyday life

      It's possible that a lot more people would be physically fit, if they knew it didn't require them to go to the gym an hour every.  As you've already learned, there are plenty of diverse ways you can mix and match so that you can enjoy getting healthy and staying healthy.  Ultimately, someone doesn't need to be a "gym rat" to be healthy.  In fact, there are a lot of benefits to getting outdoors in the fresh air for exercise once in a while.

     The more that exercise and healthy habits are incorporated into  everyday life, the healthier and satisfied you will be with your life and your body.  More than likely you've heard the advice: take the steps, park far away, take a walking break at work, ect.  However rehashed they are, they're true.  You burn negligent calories during a workout, compared to those you burn in daily activities and processes.  Choosing to stand and talk at a party or taking a stroll instead of going to a movie, are examples of those little choices that will add up over time.  


     Improving your health will help you to feel better, and maybe discover more about yourself along the way.  Maybe you're the chubby guy who loves Cheetos, you never knew you enjoyed boxing.  A certain weight or shape to does not define healthy, it's defined as a commitment to yourself  and your future wellbeing.  It isn't as hard as many people think, and there are plenty of different ways to exercise to make it enjoyable, social, and/or challenging.

    By now, I'm pretty sure I have debunked most or even all  excuses for not getting off the couch.  Take a chance and realize there is no magic formula for your particular exercise routine.  It all depends on what you like and can use to go out, get fit, and have fun.




Choosing to do a different exercise or crunch that works more of your muscles, will be more effective


Dumbbells help to add intensity to certain exercises

Credit: Microsoft Clip Art