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Get moving the healthy way

January 23, 2002

Get moving the healthy way

By Lynn F. Little


Physical activity and nutrition work together for better health. Increasing the calories you use allows you to eat more, which makes it easier to get the nutrients you need. Physical activity and nutrition work together for bone health, too. Calcium and other nutrients are needed to build and maintain strong bones, but physical activity is needed as well.

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Want to lose weight and keep it off? Regular, enjoyable physical activity is an essential part of any successful weight management plan. These six simple steps can help you and your family move toward a healthy weight and a fit future.

1. Make a commitment to physical activity.

There is no way around it. An active lifestyle is essential to maintain a healthy weight. However, there's NO need for painful exercise or boring workouts. All it takes is a commitment to regular, enjoyable physical activity - for the rest of your life.

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2. Make physical activity part of your daily routine.

Most people identify TIME as the biggest obstacle to exercise. The secret is to fit fitness into your normal routine. The good news is that every step counts.

3. Be active at least 10 minutes at a time.

If you have an hour to go to the fitness center, that's great. If you don't, it's still possible to get the activity you need for weight management and overall health. All it takes is TEN minutes of activity at a time - like walking around the block or around the mall.

4. Be active at least 30 to 45 minutes a day.

You can do it all at once or you can do 10-minute "sparks" of activity. You can do it inside; you can do it outside. You can do it alone; you can do it with friends. All you have to do is get a TOTAL of 30 to 45 minutes of fun physical activity on most days of the week.

5. Be active at least 5 days a week.

Some people like the routine of going to a class at the gym, while others get bored doing the same thing day after day. Fitness classes, dancing with friends, playing with the kids, walking the dog, shoveling snow, it all counts - just do something every day (or almost).

6. Choose activities you enjoy.

Change the "E" word from exercise to ENJOYMENT. Dance with a loved one, walk the dog, or fly a kite. Put on some music and rock around the house. If you love what you are doing, you'll keep doing it, and you'll keep moving toward a healthy weight.

Healthy eating and regular physical activity enable people of all ages to work productively, enjoy life and feel their best. They also help children grow, develop and do well in school. Be sure to consult your health care provider before starting a new, vigorous physical activity plan if you have a chronic health problem, or if you are over 40 (men) or 50 (women.)

Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with the Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County. Maryland Cooperative Extension programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, disability, age, religion or national origin.

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