Fitness Begins at Home

SATURDAY Jan. 5, 2008 -- Better health in the New Year may top your resolution list, and you don't even need a gym membership to get there, one expert says.

Purchasing the correct home equipment, being creative and boosting your motivation to work out at and around the house can all help you reach your goals.

"Traditionally, the number one New Year's resolution is to lose weight, but it should not necessarily only be that. It should be improving your fitness, and losing weight may be part of that," Colleen Greene, wellness coordinator with MFit, the University of Michigan Health System's health promotion division, said in a prepared statement.

Greene offered seven tips to help people get started with better health this year:

  • Check with your doctor to find out if you are able to start a new fitness routine and schedule a visit with a physical trainer to get a baseline measure of your strength, flexibility and endurance.
  • Buy the correct equipment to meet the goals you set once you know what your baseline health and fitness levels are. Buy hand weights to build tone and strength. On the other hand, a treadmill will help with heart health and endurance, said Greene.
  • Creative use of household items may cut costs. A can of soup can be used as a weight for repetition. Certain fitness programs focus on using your own body to provide resistance.
  • Get outside. Many outdoor activities, from cross-country skiing to playing with children, are great ways to increase physical activity.
  • Get support from friends and family. According to Greene, it is helpful to have a friend to work out with -- and just as welcome to have a family member who is willing to watch the baby or wash the dishes while you take a walk.
  • Add some variety to your routine. This helps prevent injury and prevents boredom from eating away at your resolve.
  • Be realistic about weight loss. Losing one or two pounds a week is reasonable, but it might take a while to see the effects, said Greene. Find other ways to feel good about your efforts, such as feeling better in your clothes or having more energy through the day.

Greene noted that people should get 20 minutes to 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity five or six days a week, but strength training is also an important part of staying fit.

More information

There's more on healthy exercise at Get Fit! The President's Challenge.

Posted: January 2008


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