Celebrate Fitness This May

tt111.jpgMost bloggers understand an unwritten law about blogging: Don’t start off with a statement, proclamation or diatribe from a “higher authority” to promote a point of view. The reasoning is that it’s the author’s viewpoint that matters.

However, since I’m not a blogger I’m going to break that rule. This is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and I happened to read President Barack Obama’s recent proclamation highlighting the importance of this special period. I found it to be dead on and wanted to share a portion of it.

“For generations, sports have brought Americans of all ages together and helped us celebrate our country's competitive spirit. When we work to instill an appreciation for physical fitness in our people, we do more than honor an age-old tradition -- we take a critical step toward ensuring the prospect of a long and healthy life. During National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, we highlight the importance of staying active, and we encourage all Americans to partake in physical activity to maintain their health and well-being. … Sports and other forms of physical activity inspire us -- they bridge differences, unite Americans from every walk of life, and teach the importance of teamwork.”

This type of proclamation and the programs and goals associated with it serve as a perfect example of what is good in government when it touches us positively on a basic level. Can anything be simpler than accepting the message that regular physical activity is good for everyone, children, adults and older adults? Experts are almost in complete agreement about the positive effects of exercise. Here’s why it matters:

  • Children and adolescents. Physical activity improves muscular fitness and bone and heart health.
  • Adults. It can lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
  • Older Adults. It lowers the risk of falls (a leading cause of death among older adults) and helps improve cognitive functioning (like learning and judgment skills).

The wonderful thing about this month’s emphasis on physical fitness is that the choices you have are almost limitless, and the cost can be zero. You can spend money on designer-labeled outfits or just work out in your sweats. You can join the latest gym or just clear some space in your room for some good old-fashioned bodyweight exercises. No matter what your physical fitness preference is….Get Moving!!!

I’ve always wondered if a drawback to staying physically fit rests on the idea of competition. It’s true that team sports contribute to working together, but if competition isn’t what motivates you, the choices of individual sports or exercises remain plentiful.

Most experts who deal with this subject will agree on this one point: Every little bit helps. You don’t have to become a physical fitness fanatic tomorrow to make a difference. That walk around the block helps your health. And in a few weeks, that walk around a few extra blocks will make an even bigger difference.

There is also an economic component. The better health you maintain, the less likely you are to spend money on health-care cost.  This is why savvy companies provide on-site fitness centers for their employees. Healthier employees lower health-care costs. They also know that healthy employees tend to be happier and more productive employees.

This topic might be one of the few where you simply shouldn’t overthink it. “Just Do It”, as one advertisement suggests.

So how do you get started? I have a simple and almost infallible test. Ask yourself: What do I enjoy? It’s as easy as that. And make that activity a part of your life so that it becomes embedded in your routine.

I go to the gym several times each week. My preference is early in the morning, ensuring that I get a good workout when I’m at my freshest. Some people I know skip lunch and go to the gym (or just walk around their place of employment). Others prefer an evening ritual. The timing is personal; the important part is that you’re doing it.

I’ve been around gyms and have exercised most of my life. Here are two small suggestions that will help you with starting a physical fitness program if you aren’t already engaged in one. Start small, keep it modest. You should stretch yourself from a motivational standpoint, but it shouldn’t be so arduous — that sore back or aching knees — to make you quit. Second, get a buddy. A spouse, co-worker, child etc. is a great way to connect.

So get started on the path to physical health. I promise that your body will thank you later. That’s my take, what’s yours?

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