WAY TO WELLNESS

1/7/06 Begin the New Year Right
Way to Wellness
By Carrie Kuwada Phipps
State Department of Health
Health Promotion and Education

BEGIN THE NEW YEAR RIGHT!
Call me anal if you will but I’ve set a few goals that I’d like to accomplish in this new year. I do understand that New Year’s Resolutions aren’t for everyone and there’s many who will “poo poo” the yearly ritual but I happen to think that setting some goals for the New Year are very transformational.

For this reason, I encourage goal setting. Goals give our life direction and somehow set things in motion consciously, subconsciously and on a universal level. So, take some time to sit yourself down and really think about what you’d like to see happen in your life in this next year. Write it all down as an affirmation of your life and your ability to choose.

It seems that health and fitness goals are on many individual’s lists for 2006. According to WebMD’s Health e-Newsletter, the #1 new year’s resolution of the year is to lose weight. This is not surprising as 65% of American adults are overweight. Being in the field of Public Health (health promotion/disease prevention), I would like to take this opportunity to get on my soapbox and put in my two cents worth of prevention advice.
If you could focus on only one goal this new year, make it to “be more active”. In other words, start a regular exercise program.

Why? Because regular physical activity impacts so many other areas of our lives and our health. It keeps your body healthy and your tissues and organs working properly. Keeping your body in good working order also helps keep diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis at bay. It also helps to keep your weight under control so that you don’t have to be on the on-again/off-again diet rollercoaster. And, it helps in the mental and emotional health department warding off depression, anxiety, and insomnia and giving you a positive outlook on life. It may also be the kickstart you need to quit smoking! Once you’ve included physical activity, other positive lifestyle changes such as healthier eating habits will fall into place in your life.

Exercise is the greatest cure-all and really should be our “drug of choice”. . According to Robert Butler, M.D., past Director of the Institute of Aging: “If exercise could be put into a pill, it would be the most widely prescribed medicine”.

National health and exercise organizations recommend you do moderately intense physical activity for at least 30 minutes on most (preferably all) days of the week. Doing more vigorous exercise is also recommended. Recent studies have shown that people who exercise can add 3 years to their lives, and their hearts reap benefits from something as simple as brisk walking 30 minutes a day. These extra years were lived mostly free from heart disease. These studies revealed that walking for 30 minutes 5 or more days a week either moderately or briskly or walking briskly for 30 minutes 3-4 days a week improved cardiorespiratory fitness.

The ideal physical activity program includes 3 major components: aerobic (cardiovascular exercise); strength training (resistance) exercise; and flexibility (stretching exercise). In aerobics, there is continual movement of large muscles in the legs and buttocks. This causes you to breathe more deeply and your heart to work harder to pump blood, thereby strengthening your heart and lungs. Examples include walking, jogging, running, biking, swimming and aerobic dance.

Strength training builds lean muscle mass, which increases your physical strength and bone mass. Examples include weight lifting (free weights, machines, elastic tubing) and calisthenics (body weight exercises such as push ups).

Stretching increases freedom of movement and improves posture. In addition, it releases muscle tension and soreness, enhances relaxation, and reduces your risk of injury during exercise. It’s best to stretch all major muscles groups in your body. Stretching classes include yoga and tai chi.

If you haven’t been active and need a place to start, walking is a great beginning point. Before starting an exercise program, check with your doctor about any possible medical problems you may have that would limit your exercise program. If you’re past the beginning point, maybe it’s time to make an appointment with a certified athletic trainer to help you develop a safe, effective and enjoyable program. Certified trainers can be found at a local gym or through a referral from your health care provider. A certified trainer can work with you and your goals and help you design a program that will match your goals, preferences and enjoyment.

What are your hopes, dreams and goals for 2006? The new year give us another great opportunity to move forward in so many areas of our lives. I’m hoping you’ll make your health a priority for the new year. If you’ve got your health, you’ve got the most important thing that cannot be replaced nor bought.

If you want to get started in a regular walking program with built in support and comraderie, there’s still time to grab some buddies and join the 3rd Annual 2006 Maka’eo
Team Fitness Challenge beginning on Saturday, January 14 through Saturday, February 18. Sponsored by Friends For Fitness, the team fitness challenge is to assist you in getting physically active, work on your health and fitness goals, while raising funds to enhance the Maka’eo walking/jogging path. For more information and/or to register, contact Sheila at 987-6835 or Heidi at 938-1872.

Fitness begins with one step at a time!

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