This page offers two concrete examples of what might be called a healthy lifestyle. As you read on, you will see how the respective characters blend physical activity into their daily lives, as a means of entertainment rather than exercise. Under these circumstances, the conventional (gym-type) exercise is no longer a requirement for weight control.
Here’s ideal scenario: Julian is a 21 year old college student, who is an avid mountain-biker and also likes to play golf in his spare time. Julian regularly goes on 2-3 hour strenuous biking tours – at least twice a week, whenever his schedule permits. On weekends, he sometimes goes out golfing on an 18-hole golf course with his friends. To save some money, they don’t rent a cart, but rather walk in between holes. Julian lives in Southern California, so he can golf outdoors most of the year. Living this lifestyle, Julian has a healthy appetite, can afford to eat all he wants, and stays in top shape.
Let’s now look at a more common case: Carla is a 48 year old housewife and mother of 2
teenagers. She has never exercised in her life, but has maintained a reasonable weight all along.
She is quite careful about the food she prepares for her family: They eat plenty of fresh
vegetables, all recipes Carla cooks are low-fat, and sweets are consumed in moderation.
Moreover, there is a ban on candy in the family: Carla never allowed her children to have it.
Instead, the children were encouraged to have fresh fruit.
The family has 2 dogs, which Carla walks daily in the nearby park for about 30 minutes a day,
regardless of the season. Additionally, Carla is an avid gardener and does plenty of landscaping
in her backyard. With this level of activity and her very reasonable eating habits, Carla is staying
in shape and the same is true of her family.
Fine, you will say, but we aren’t all as fortunate as Julian and Carla. What if we live in a climate that precludes year-round outdoor activities? And what if we work for a living, and that very job
obliges us to lead a sedentary lifestyle?
Those are all valid concerns. Of course, nothing in life is ideal.
However, regardless of the climate you live in and regardless of your job demands, there are
certain things you can do to ‘normalize’ your lifestyle, i.e., make it healthier, at least to some
degree. Below is a list of tips for a healthy lifestyle:
- Increase the amount of walking you’re doing. Especially if you live in an urban area,
consider walking rather than driving for short or intermediate distances. For example, if
you are in a strip mall and you plan to visit more than one shop, walk in between the
shops rather than driving. It is amazing how all these little walks add up to a large calorie burn.
- Walk up the steps as much as possible. This is particularly applicable to those working in buildings with more than one floor. Many large institutions, e.g., corporate offices,
hospitals, etc, are laid out such that one must circulate in between floors multiple times a
day. If you are so fortunate to work in such a place, take advantage of it: Pretend the
elevator hasn’t been invented yet, and climb stairs as often as you can. It burns a
significant amount of calories (especially if done at fast pace), and can effectively replace
a workout. Moreover, it gives you some time to relax and clear your mind from the
hassle of the workplace.
- If you have easy access to an indoor pool, do not hesitate to use it on a regular basis: Swimming is a great workout that combines both aerobic and strength training benefits, and compared to other
workouts is quite gentle on your body.
- Restructure your free time to include more outdoor activities, weather
permitting. Go out hiking, jogging or bicycling, walk in the park, go
swimming (which of course can be done indoors as well), play tennis or at least
table tennis, etc.
- If you have a dog, make sure to walk it daily for at least
30 minutes: Both you and your dog will benefit from this activity.
If you are capable of mountain hiking and have some
attraction for this kind of activity, do it: It’s one of the
best all around workouts you can get, and the mountain
views can be awesome.
If you need motivation to get moving, join a group that does outdoor
activities or other physical activities. (For young boys, joining the boy
scouts is an excellent idea. For young girls, consider cheerleading.
For teenagers or young adults, consider picking up a sport such as volleyball, basketball,
etc. For older people, a controlled exercise program such as yoga may be well suited.)
- Pick physical activities you enjoy doing: That way, the workout is perceived as fun
rather than a chore.
- Last but not least, educate yourself about food and watch what you eat: Try to eliminate saturated fat, cholesterol and
trans fats from your diet. Minimize the amount of sweets (sugars) you ingest. Choose whole grain products over refined (enriched) products. Make fruit and vegetables a mainstay of your diet. For further details, check out our chapter Health and Nutrition.
Clingman’s Dome: Tallest Point in the Smokey Mountains
A healthy lifestyle not only protects you from disorders such as heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, etc – but also improves and stabilizes your mood, conveying a feeling of confidence and well being.
Note: It is prudent to consult with your doctor prior to starting an exercise program, especially if you are new to exercise, suffer from any medical conditions, or are a woman over the age of 50 or a man over the age of 40.