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Some smart moves can downsize into healthy weight

January 09, 2008|By LYNN LITTLE

If you are like most people, you have probably been less active than usual. When our lives get busy, physical activity is often the first thing to go. Ask anyone about their biggest reason for their lack of exercise and you will usually hear that they don't have enough time.

We all make decisions every day about the things that we will do and the things that we will let slide. This is called setting priorities. When you make physical activity an everyday priority, you can reap incredible benefits.

How does your body feel right now? Do you feel strong and fit? Wish you could get rid of a few aches and pains, big or small?

How well are you sleeping at night? Do you have trouble falling asleep? Do you have trouble sleeping through the night? Wish that you could feel more rested after a night in bed?

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How worried are you about your health? Is diabetes or high blood pressure making it hard for you to enjoy life? Wish that you could feel better today and tomorrow?

How many medications did you take so far today? Are you taking more and more prescriptions for various problems? Wish you could save money on medicines?

How about your weight? Are you maintaining a stable, healthy weight? Wish you didn't have to think about another diet for the New Year?

Now for the final and most important question: How much physical activity did you get today?

Here are six ways to fit fitness into your life. Consider how you can start a new exercise program today.

1. Move more. Every step counts toward better health.

2. Move often. Be active throughout the day.

3. Move inside. Walk the stairs, walk the halls, walk the mall.

4. Move outside. Walk, bike, mow, rake, shovel.

5. Move for fun. Dance, skip, swing or go fly a kite.

6. Move together. Join a class or walk with friends.

Exercise experts agree that if you can't find 30 minutes in a row to exercise, you can get your activity in 5- and 10-minute chunks. With just a few smart moves you can be less stressed, feel stronger, have more energy, sleep better, be healthier, take fewer pills and stabilize your weight. What are you waiting for?

Visit the Web sites of the USDA's food pyramid (www.mypyramid.gov), the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (wecan.nhlbi.nih.gov) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (www.aoa.gov/youcan) for ideas on incorporating more physical activity into your life.

Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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