Summertime is a Great Time For Healthful Exercise and Fun

It’s no secret that Americans are overweight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that our nation has become “obesogenic,” characterized by an attitude that promotes “increased food intake, [consumption of] nonhealthful foods, and physical inactivity.” In other words, we’re a nation of couch potatoes. We know the effects: Complications associated with obesity, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and strokes, are on the rise.

What can we do? For starters, get off our duffs. Summer is a perfect time to get off our chairs and couches, and get outdoors. In addition to some healthful exercise, we’ll reacquaint ourselves to the world around us. How many of you are truly familiar with your town and state?

CAUTION: Before beginning any exercise program, no matter how modest, consult with your doctor.

Let’s review some of the simple yet fun activities you can participate in. Each will help you burn calories and introduce you to a whole new way of living. The habits you form now can literally add years to your life. How’s that for motivation!

Walking - Easily the simplest form of exercise you can do. You merely put one foot in front of the other for several moments. Where to walk? Start with your neighborhood. When was the last time you spoke with Mr. and Mrs. Jones around the block? (In person, that is!) You can make new friends and re-establish old acquaintances hoofing it around the neighborhood for 20 minutes each day.

Biking – If you care to travel a bit farther, hop on your bike. Many communities are blessed with safe bike lanes, as well as bike paths and trails. Old railroad tracks often get turned into hiking/biking trails that can be pedaled for miles. Put your helmet on and let the wind whip through your hair.

Running/Jogging - These have obvious health benefits, but may take some getting used to (along with a good pair of shoes). Start modestly, and increase your distances as your body adjusts.

Swimming - Ahhh, the pool. Visions of lounging in the sun, lapping up the warmth without a care in the world. OK, that too, but you’re in the pool to burn calories. Put in a good 10 – 15 minutes each day.

Playing tennis - A good aerobic exercise, tennis can burn a lot of calories in a short period of time. What if you’re not that good? Doesn’t matter. Heck, I’m not. Just pick a partner with a similar skill level. Get out there and hit the ball around for awhile.

Many other possibilities exist, including basketball, racquetball, softball… the list is almost limitless. The point is to get outside and do something. Even gardening is beneficial. Find something you like to do, start modestly, and stick with it. You won’t see big changes right away, but you will notice improvements over time. And you will be a better person because you took that first step.

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