RSmith | 1/20/2008, 5:48 p.m.
The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services developed the Texercise program to encourage older adults along with their families and friends to adopt a regular exercise routine and healthy eating habits. But the Texercise message – to get up and get active – applies to Texans of all ages.
If you can’t imagine doing sit-ups, why not try dancing? Everything from gardening to a brisk walk around the neighborhood, or even a morning spent mopping the floor, counts toward your fitness plan and can help improve your health.
Regular physical activity provides tremendous health benefits for all ages. It helps reduce the risk of stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and colon cancer. Exercise helps older Texans reduce the risk of falls and bone fractures, and it can relieve the pain of arthritis. Being active helps children and teens maintain a healthy weight and build strong bones. For busy adults, exercise has proved to be an excellent way to fight stress, improve your mood and relieve depression.
When it comes to exercise, the first step is the biggest challenge. The Department of Aging and Disability Services has 10 tips to help you get off to a good start:
1. Pick a regular day and time for physical activity. Having a routine helps.
2. Exercise three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
3. Track your activities. You can make your own activity log or use the one in the Texercise Handbook.
4. Work out with a friend.
5. Include activities you enjoy.
6. Wear loose-fitting, weather-appropriate clothes that let you move freely. Wear comfortable shoes, preferably athletic shoes that provide good support and don’t cause blisters or calluses.
7. For strength and balance exercise, consider using small weights. You can buy weights or make your own with some common household items. For example, an old tube sock filled with beans can be used as an ankle weight, or you can carry a quart container filled with sand or water for a quick 2-pound arm weight.
8. Begin slowly and gradually work your way to more vigorous exercises. If you haven’t exercised regularly in a while, walking is a great way to start. Begin by walking a mile at a leisurely pace five times a week. Each week, try to quicken your pace. Then you can begin to extend the length of your walk. Never exercise to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness.
9. Learn to do exercises correctly and safely. The Texercise Handbook includes detailed instructions and illustrations for several exercises to help build strength, improve balance and increase flexibility.
10. Be patient. Success won’t happen overnight. It takes at least three weeks of regular exercise to start noticing changes in your body.
It’s important to set a realistic goal. You have to be able to walk around the block before you can run around the block. Once you start a regular fitness routine, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your body responds. You’ll feel better and have more energy.
For more information and tips, sample activity logs and a copy of the Texercise Handbook, visit www.texercise.com or call 800-889-8595.