A strong body makes the mind strong. —Thomas Jefferson
When I was in high school, I was twenty pounds heavier than I am now. Then in college I became part of the “Freshman Fifteen Club” – that’s not a club you want to join. At a time in my life when I should have been at peak physical condition, I was overweight. If I add it all up, I’ve gained and lost over 100 pounds in my life.
As a smart college girl, I knew many tricks to lose weight. Two of the all-time worst weight loss gimmicks were: wrapping my body in plastic wrap, donning a sweat suit, and sitting in the sauna, or simply starving myself. Neither, as you probably know, worked. Only when I started to teach group fitness classes regularly did I start to shed pounds. Another important change was that I stopped thinking about what I was going to have for lunch while eating breakfast. I kept busy. Finding something you love to do prevents you from eating out of boredom, too. Have you ever been so involved in a project that you forgot to eat? Compare that with inhaling a bag of chips while watching television.
Exercise is the key to life-long health. It lowers your blood pressure; helps you sleep better; prevents inflammation, which can cause diseases like cancer, and is wonderful at reducing stress! There are days you may want to run a marathon or swim a mile, and some days you may just want to go for a walk or stretch. Quite often, people ask me which class I like to teach or what my favorite workout is. After having taught thousands of classes to thousands of people for decades, I can honestly say my favorite workout is Zumba®!
Having been trained in dozens of different fitness programs, from step to Spinning to kick-boxing, I can appreciate the value of each curriculum and enjoy most of them. Since I love to dance and don’t have hours every day to get my heart pumping and do weight-training, I know I can get a full body workout in sixty minutes and have a blast through Zumba® in the Circuit. Am I biased? You better believe it! When you spend hundreds of hours of training, testing and trying different fitness modalities, I know that an interval training fitness program is what works best for me. We dance for one song, then do exercises targeted to a specific area, such as squats and lunges for legs, for one song, and repeat the process until we’ve worked every major muscle group – all under an hour! The result is an exciting variety of movements reaching cardiovascular intensity and prime muscular conditioning. But here’s why it works for me: I love it!
You’ll be more interested in exercising if you like what you’re doing. Some people prefer weight training, running, swimming, biking or yoga. I like to do all those and vary my workouts often. It’s best to utilize the muscles in a different way in order to achieve a well-rounded fitness program and a balanced body.
Today’s lesson is quite basic: do something, anything, every day! Make sure to include these three areas when considering an exercise program:
- strength training (using weights, tubes or your own body)
- cardiovascular exercise (walking, running, swimming, dancing)
- stretching (yoga)
(Consult a physician before starting any exercise program)
Here are some simple ways you can incorporate more exercise into your life:
- Park your car farther away from your destination.
- Take the stairs.
- For every four minutes of chores, do ten jumping jacks.
Make a commitment to better your health by moving or stretching at least 4 times a week for a minimum of thirty minutes. In your calendar, write the times and days you can workout this week. That is the secret to staying in shape!