We’re approaching the half year mark and time is sure flying by. I hope you are not forgetting to take care of yourself! There is only one person responsible for your health and well-being and that is you! You decide what food you eat and what you drink. You decide whether you sit and watch TV or go for a walk or a bike ride.
Your health requires your attention 24-7. Keeping physically fit and eating healthfully requires you to be attentive to these matters most of the time. Yes, you can jump off the health bandwagon periodically as long as you have the will-power to get back on. This becomes even more important the older you become.
As I have discussed in previous articles, it does not take much to lose muscle when it is not used. Put a cast on your arm for six weeks and when it is removed you don’t really like what you see. The muscle has shriveled up or atrophied. More importantly, the loss of strength occurs more quickly than the loss of muscle mass. Sadly, recent research shows that low muscle strength is associated with an increase in cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is associated with three of the following: high triglycerides, low high-density lipoprotein, high body mass index with a high waist circumference, high glucose and high blood pressure.
Obviously a healthy diet and being physically active can have a positive impact on reducing the above risks. But not all physical activity will result in increasing muscular strength. It is important to select activities that focus on increasing your muscle strength.
This is a good time of year for most of the country to get involved with physical activities that would improve strength. Most outdoor chores would increase your strength or at least maintain your level of strength. As I mentioned earlier, going for a bike ride will certainly help to strengthen that legs as would hiking. It is important to try to select activities that are good for the entire body – upper body, lower body and core (trunk and abdominal areas).
Use this summer to get back into shape by exercising more and eating healthfully. It does take time to improve your physical fitness and to increase your strength but 8-12 weeks would be a great start to creating new habits. Remember to drink plenty of water (zero calories) and avoid other beverages that contain added sugar or caffeine. Sports drinks can be good if you’re involved in vigorous activity for more than an hour, but water is still your best choice.
Have fun and be well this summer!