Fitness: You Can Do This!

Following an exercise regimen takes persistence, desire

By Deb Dittner

senior SWIMMINGWant some good news? Of course! Who doesn’t?

Physical fitness will help you to feel younger and live longer. Regular exercise will put you at a lower risk of dying from a variety of causes.

Fitness will also improve your sleep, prevent weight gain, decrease your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and depression and anxiety.

Physical fitness doesn’t have to be super-strenuous to gain results. Moderate activities five to six times a week can lead to improved and lasting health benefits. Moving at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, and at least twice a week incorporating aerobic exercise (cardio) with weight-bearing activities to strengthen all muscle groups, should be practiced.

The No. 1 one reason most people say they don’t exercise is a lack of time. I hear ya! We’re all crazy busy but incorporating even short bouts of movement into your schedule will be beneficial.

Add brief 10-minute segments into your day to reduce cardiovascular disease.

For example, park your car at the farthest end of the parking lot at work and walk in. If your job has elevators, take the stairs. Instead of sitting at your desk eating lunch, take a walk in the park and sit on a bench to enjoy your meal. This way, you are getting some vitamin D and fresh air as well.

Set your specific fitness goals and be realistic. Start up gradually. Don’t set out to run a 10K road race in a month when you haven’t run in years.

You need to build strength and endurance. Starting out too quickly can sometimes lead to an injury that will sideline you even longer, causing frustration. To be more realistic, set your goals on a 5K walk-run road race in a couple months.

Consider scheduling your fitness plans right into your daily planner. By putting this in writing into your schedule, you will be more likely to complete it. Take into account that obstacles may come into play, so have a plan B to either do something else that day involving movement, make up the time or add it to your next session.

Get a workout buddy

An excellent way to make sure fitness becomes a part of your life is to work out with a friend. You will have each other to push along the way on those days that you “just don’t feel like it” or it’s “too cold outside.” Motivating each other is also more fun as you see each other gain strength and endurance.

Sticking to your new fitness routine can be challenging, so you’ll want to vary your exercise.

There are a variety of activities to choose from such as walking, running, swimming, high-intensity interval training, cardio, yoga, and even going outside with your kids to play soccer.

If you’re not sure what you could or should do for fitness, consider signing up in group fitness classes and work with a trainer. This doesn’t need to be long-term but just to get your started, learn proper technique and achieve goals.

Of course, if you haven’t exercised in many years, check with your health care provider to make sure it’s a go. Joining a gym or health club may also help to motivate you on your quest.

Already have equipment at home? Hop on that stationary bike, treadmill, stair climber, ski machine, or rowing machine.

Not in the budget? Remember using a hula-hoop or jump rope as a child? Those are very reasonably priced, a ton of fun and even a good laugh at the beginning. Is mobility an issue?

Consider chair yoga.

It’s often said to make any habit stick you need to incorporate the program into your life for 90 days. Maintaining a fitness routine will come as easy as brushing your teeth and sleeping for seven-to-nine hours nightly.

You can do it! One step at a time will lead to many rewards in the future.

• Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner and health consultant. Her mission is to transform as many individuals as possible through nutrition and lifestyle changes. For more information, check out her website at or contact her at 518-596-8565.