If I could pick the top three things you can do for your health they would be: stop smoking, eat better and exercise. We’re going to focus on exercise in this article. We all know that exercise is good for us. So why don’t we do it? Well I guess there are lots of reasons — not enough time, not enough motivation, other health problems like joint and low back pain, along with you name it other obstacles.
I don’t have any secrets to overcoming any of these obstacles. Often I think that we make things over-complicated. How hard should I exercise? How long? What exercise should I be doing? What about warm ups and cool downs? What about stretching? All valid questions. My favorite answer to all this comes from Dan John, who is a coach and trainer. He says, “You can’t do everything but you can do something.” I can’t think of better advice for getting going with exercise (and really for success in any endeavor) than do something. So do something — anything.
It’s best if you can do some activity that gets your heart rate up some. I usually tell people to at least exercise at a pace that gets the breathing rate up so that it is difficult to carry on a conversation. It’s best if you can do this for at least 30 minutes a day and six days a week. The options are endless. Walking, hiking, kayaking, jogging, biking, stationary bike, jump rope, martial arts, yoga and on and on and on. You just need to do it and do it on a regular basis. You don’t need equipment or a professional trainer. You just need to get out there and do it.
There are little things that you can do too. It’s good to take the stairs. Park in the farthest parking spot rather than the closest. Get a step counter to check your progress. I promise you that once you start and are consistent for a couple of weeks it will be hard to stop. You will feel so much better that you won’t want to miss your workouts. It will be a habit. And you’ll note the benefits — improved mental health, less fatigue, weight loss, more flexibility and strength.
So get up and get out there. Do something. Do it now — today. Stop reading this right now and go for a walk. You’ll be glad you did.
Dr. Grant Jackson is a family physician practicing in Montesano and write a monthly column on health.