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Five easy ways to start exercising

Get moving by changing your thinking and working exercise into daily activity.

You know you’re supposed to move in order to stay healthy. But for many people, exercising is a daunting chore. If you’re among them, don’t beat yourself up about it. “Modern society has basically made it easy to avoid exercise. We have cars, elevators, and escalators, which take exercise out of the equation of daily living. You can exist without exerting yourself at all,” says Dr. Aaron Baggish, who runs a program for active people with heart problems at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

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Exercising can help you reduce or avoid medications, a great reason to start moving.

But regular exercise is medicine! It helps ward off dementia, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and many other health problems. No pill ever invented protects your health as broadly as exercise. So how do you find the motivation to start, especially if you like your sedentary lifestyle? Here are Dr. Baggish’s top tips, and a few we’ve added.

1 Exercise to avoid pills

“This is the No. 1 motivator among my patients. Exercise
is the best way to reduce or eliminate medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and most people don’t know it. The results are real, tangible, and immediate,”
says Dr. Baggish. How does it work? When you get your heart pumping, you limit the production of bad (LDL) cholesterol and cause the lining of the blood vessels to produce nitric oxide, which relaxes the blood vessels and
increases blood flow to the heart and brain.

2 Use daily activities

“Working any physical activity, even a little bit, into a daily routine is far better than doing nothing,” says Dr. Baggish. Walk down the block, or back and forth in your house. Take the long way around the grocery store. March in place while you talk on the phone. Punch the air while you watch TV. Start getting used to the idea of moving with purpose. It will gradually make you want to move more.

3 Stop calling it exercise

Moving is fun. “I’ve never met anyone who couldn’t find an exercise program that was a good fit,” says Dr. Baggish. But how to buy into the fun? The trick is twofold. First, retrain your brain using affirmations. Start using the word “fun” in place of “exercise,” and say it out loud: “I’m going to go have fun. Sorry, I’m busy, I have scheduled something fun.” Second, find something you enjoy doing that doesn’t involve sitting. It may be gardening, shopping, dancing, hiking, bike riding, or walking through a museum or botanical garden. Give it a little oomph, and you’ll get a workout.

4 Try short workouts

The recommended amount of moderate-intensity exercise—the kind that makes you sweat just a little—is 150 minutes per week. But it doesn’t matter how large a chunk you knock off each time you exercise. You can aim for 21 minutes a day, and break it up into several chunks. A five-minute walk, plus five minutes of marching in place while you talk on the phone, plus five minutes up the stairs and back when you go to an appointment, plus a five-minute lap around the mall? You can do that.

5 Volunteer

Many nonprofit groups need hands-on help, and it winds up being a bit of a workout. Ideas: serve food at a soup kitchen or rock babies at a daycare center, which will build muscle strength; deliver food to the less fortunate with a meals-on-wheels type of group, which will work your legs as you go back and forth from a car to a doorstep; help out at the local animal shelter, and walk dogs; become a hospital volunteer, and deliver flowers to patients. You’ll be moving more without even realizing it, and also reaping the benefits of giving to others, which boosts your mood and your thinking skills.?

Do chronic conditions keep you from exercising?

If you have a chronic condition, you may be using that fact as a crutch to avoid exercising. But regular physical activity can actually improve your quality of life if you have arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, or even Parkinson’s disease. It may even keep you from getting other related conditions. For example, if you are unable to do aerobic exercise, you may still be able to do some strength training, which has been shown to stave off diabetes. Talk to your doctor about your limitations, then get advice from a physical therapist to come up with a routine that can get you moving, no matter what your ailment.

Posted by: Dr.Health

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