Staying Healthy and Fit Even if You Don’t Have Time

How do you squeeze exercise into a day already packed to bulging?

You alter your attitude toward it.

Americans tend to view exercise as distinct from daily living. You may think that to be fit you nee a rowing machine, roller blading, or a five-mile run.

Such workouts are important, but an equally important component in a fit lifestyle is to take advantage of smaller opportunities.

Daily activities that many people view as annoyances–walking to work, gardening, grocery shopping, or cleaning the floor–can be occasions for aerobic activity, or stretching, or muscle building.

Opportunities for exercise abound in your office as well. Do you practice good posture as you sit in your chair? Do you pace as you talk on the phone?

Activities that may seem insignificant can have a significant impact on your health, if you consciously incorporate them into your daily routine. And they don’t require extra time.

Of course, you’ll also want to engage in more-extensive workouts. Does a workday leave you too tired to exercise? Chances are, much of the fatigue is mental fatigue. Ten hours of meeting deadlines takes a toll on anyone. But do not confuse the strain you feel with your physcial state.

You’ll find that exercise breeds energy and a feeling of empowerment–a conditioned body is able to tackle virtually any activity with more zest than a sedentary one.

Starting an exercise program can look daunting. Make it managebale by scheduling. Generally, you’ll be more apt to exercise regularly if you have a regular exercise schedule–if, for example, you run at 7:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

It’s also important to recognize that, if need be, you can be flexible in your scheduling. If you have to get to work early on Fridays to prepare for staff meetings, plan to run Friday after work. Either way, make a definite appointment with yourself, and stick to it.

A weekly exercise regiment should include at least three days in which you get a substantial aerobic workout. Aerobic exercise promotes the supply and use of oxygen, contributes to greater efficiency of the heart and the cardiovascular system, and is an excellent method of weight control.

An aerobic session requires sustaining your target heart rate for at least 20 minutes. Calculate your heart-rate zone by subtracting your age from 220. This gives you the maximum heart rate in beasts per minute. Your target zone is between 70 and 85 percent of the age-estimated maximum heart rate. (For a person who is 35, for example, the range is 130 to 157-220 minus 35 is 185; that figure multiplied by 0.70 is 130, and by 0.85 is 157.)

Before beginning any program of vigorous exercise or setting out to achieve a target heart rate, of course, you should consult with your physician.

In choosing an aerobic exercise, remember that if you don’t enjoy it, you probably won’t do it, no matter how nicely it fits into your schedule.

Do you need the motivation of an instructor or a friend? Classes or buddying up with an exercise partner might be important for you. Are you competitive? Team sports are terrific–they provide a schedule, camaraderie, competition, and fun. Check out the local YMCA, community center, or college.

Do you need more scheduling flexibility? Running, swimming, walking, and cycling are all options. Want to combine exercise with the evening news? Consider that stationary bicycles, rowing and stair machines, and myriad other exercise machines are available in home models.

Fitting exercise into a tight schedule calls for creativity. A lunchtime aerobic class may leave you in a rather unsightly state for your afternoon business meeting, but don’t deny yourself the workout.

Instead of aerobics, take a stretch/tone or yoga class. Limber muscles are vital for injury prevention, body alignment, postural benefits, and ease of movement. And stretching is also a superb way to reduce tension.

Many executives find that early morning and after work are prime times for exercise. Many clubs have early-morning and late-evening hours.

Working out at work is a terrific option; there’s no easier way to stick to a lunchtime commitment to exercise than if the class is at your office.

Increasingly, small businesses are responding to demand for fitness classes to accommodate employees on tight schedules. While most are not able to provide full fitness centers, many offer inexpensive classes in makeshift exercise rooms.

No matter what time of day you exercise, you need a good warm-up. But especially in the early morning, when you’re rolling out of bed and feeling around for your running shoes, be sure you ease into your workout gently.

Don’t engage in aerobic activity later than a couple of hours before you go to sleep, however, or you’ll be asking for insomnia: Aerobic exercises are energy infusers.

If you still question whether it’s possible to fit exercise into your life, here’s some added incentive to put you in an exercise frame of mind: Muscle tissue burns off calories, fatty tissue doesn’t. If your business suit masks muscle, you’ll burn off more calories just while sitting than if you suit covers fat.

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