Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Health Resolutions for the New Year

Hopefully, the few days of your new year has gone beautifully! If you are like most people, you may have even made a few “resolutions”. Studies show that 40-45% of Americans make resolutions every year, and at least one of those usually involves a promise to eat healthier and exercise more. Even though health related resolutions are made with the best of intentions, they often fail because people try to do too much too soon. (Certainly, if you attend the gym regularly, you notice the new crop of attendees every year that tends to dwindle after the first month or two.) People make promises to themselves that they are just not mentally prepared for or physically able to keep.

While failure to keep these health related promises is disappointing, it also has the potential to be very dangerous or in rare cases, deadly. For those with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or for anyone embarking on a new fitness program after being sedentary, it is imperative that before you begin any diet or exercise program you visit your physician to get medical advice and physical clearance.

No one disputes the advantages of physical fitness. The trick is to start slow and make attainable goals. In general, to achieve maximum benefits, you should gradually work up to an aerobic session lasting 20 to 30 minutes, at least three to four times a week, but even just walking for 20 minutes a day has been shown to strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system, improve your circulation and help your body use oxygen more efficiently.

Other benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase energy levels and endurance
  • Improve muscle tone and strength, balance and flexibility
  • Strengthen bones
  • Reduce body fat and maintain a healthy weight
  • Help reduce stress, tension, anxiety and depression

In talking to your physician, here are some questions you might consider asking to make your new fitness program safe and effective:

  • How much exercise can I do each day?
  • How often can I exercise each week?
  • What type of exercise can I do?
  • What type of activities should I avoid?
  • Should I take my medication(s) at certain times around my exercise schedule?
  • Do I need to take my pulse while exercising?
  • What modifications should I make to my diet?

If you are planning to turn your health around this year by starting a diet and exercise program, please begin safely by visiting your physician to discuss the proper course of action for you! Stay healthy and safe in 2010!

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