Last year, I wrote a similar article entitled, “Time for Fitness.” I thought this topic was worth repeating, as time (lack of, that is) seems to be the number one excuse of why women don’t exercise.
Experts say the number one reason for midlife weight gain is reduced physical exercise. According to C. Wayne Callaway, M.D., associate clinical professor of medicine at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., “When we get less exercise, we start shedding muscle and adding fat.” It takes fewer calories to maintain fat than muscle, so metabolism starts to slow down.
Hormones also play a role. Estrogen levels start to drop a year or two before menopause, which pushes our bodies to store fat. If you’re thinking you’re “doomed” come middle age, take heart. It doesn’t take an hour at the gym everyday or going on a too-strict diet to keep in shape. If you think of exercise as something you are doing for yourself, you’re off to a good start.
To stick to an exercise regime (and it doesn’t need to be grueling!), make it part of your everyday routine – just like taking a shower every morning. Take a look at your calendar to see what’s taking up a lot of your time, and put exercise high on your priority list. If you write it down, just like an appointment, it will be hard to break. Don’t put exercise on your general “to do” list; that’s too easy to stretch out into the next day (and the next, and the next – you get the idea).
If you think you don’t have time to exercise, you can probably find small stretches of time here and there that can be used to fit in some kind of fitness. When you’re on the phone, you can do stretches, sit-ups, lunges, etc. If you’re on the phone to a neighbor, suggest a walk around the block together – that way you can talk and fit in some exercise at the same time. Climb the stairs at work instead of taking the elevator. Take a 15-minute walk on your lunch break. Lift free weights at home for 10 minutes in the evening. All this counts!
Ideally, you should strive for 30 minutes of exercise per day. This can be broken up into segments, such as 15 minutes of brisk walking in the morning or on your lunch break, and another kind of physical activity in the evening – biking, playing soccer with the kids, or even taking another walk. Remember – any kind of exercise is better than none, and once you develop a routine, you’ll find yourself looking forward to this time for yourself, as you’ll feel better both physically and mentally.
I recently read some reasons (besides fitness benefits) why some women like to walk. See if you can relate to some of them:
- Time to think.
- Reduces stress.
- Time to be with God.
- Sweat out toxins.
- Get a suntan.
- Keeps me from eating during that time.
- Makes me realize there is a world outside my house.
- It refreshes my spirit about life.
- More energy for everyday activity.
- The dog loves getting out, too!
When you’re at home, the chores you do all count toward your fitness goal and well-being. Take the garbage out yourself. Haul the laundry basket up and down the stairs. While you’re watching TV, do some sit-ups and push-ups. During the warm months, get out and garden. Trim bushes. Rake the leaves. In the winter, shovel the snow off your porch and driveway – or at least help your husband or kids! All indoor chores – vacuuming, reaching and bending to dust, washing windows and floors – all these activities help burn fat and increase your metabolism.
Make time for yourself – you deserve it!