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Exercise and Fitness

Do you remember when you were a child and you’d look out the window, the sun shining the trees waving in the breeze, and you grab your kite, run outside and not come in until your parents made you?  Do you remember the feeling of exhilaration of running though the grass with the wind in your face, your kite high above like a bird in flight?  Close your eyes and feel it.  That larger than life feeling can be reached again.  How you ask?  Through exercise!

Research has shown that even low levels of activity are better than no activity at all in the keeping fit and healthy. Because of the many benefits of exercise, caregivers are encouraged to find ways throughout the day of becoming more physically active.

If you’re interested in improving your overall conditioning, health experts recommend that you should get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity on all or most days of the week. Examples of moderate activity include brisk walking, cycling, swimming or doing home repairs or yard work. Yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates are other forms of exercise you may want to try.  If you can’t get in 30 minutes all at once, aim for shorter bouts of activity (at least 10 minutes) that add up to a half hour per day.

Instead of thinking in terms of a specific exercise program, work toward permanently changing your lifestyle to incorporate more activity. Don’t forget that muscles used in any activity, any time of day, contribute to fitness. Try working in a little more movement with these extras:

With so many fitness possibilities, it’s easy to get started!  Pick an activity that you enjoy and practice it tonight.  It’s good for your body, mind and soul!

Remember, never begin an exercise program without your physician's approval.

Regardless of your age, gender or role in life, you can benefit from regular physical activity. If you’re committed, exercise in combination with a sensible diet can help provide an overall sense of well-being and can even help prevent chronic illness and disability.  Some of the benefits of increased activity are:

Improved health

Improved sense of well-being 

Improved appearance

Enhanced social life

Increased stamina

Defining fitness

Physical fitness is to the human body what fine tuning is to an engine.  It enables us to perform up to our potential. Fitness can be described as a condition that helps us look, feel and do our best.  More specifically, it is:

“The ability to perform daily tasks vigorously and alertly, with energy left over for enjoying leisure- time activities and meeting emergency demands.  It is the ability to endure, to bear up, to withstand stress, to carry on in circumstances where an unfit person could not continue, and is a major basis for good health and well-being.”

Physical fitness involves the performance of the heart and lungs, and the muscles of the body.  And, since what we do with our bodies also affects what we can do with our minds, fitness influences to some degree qualities such as mental alertness and emotional stability.

As you undertake your fitness program, it’s important to remember that fitness is an individual quality that varies from person to person.  It is influenced by age, sex, heredity, personal habits, exercise and eating practices. 

Knowing the basics

Physical fitness is most easily understood by examining its components, or “parts.”  There is widespread agreement that these four components are basic:

When developing an exercise program for yourself, it should include something from each of the four basic fitness components described above.  Each workout should begin with a warm-up and end with a cool-down.  As a general rule, space your workouts throughout the week and avoid consecutive days of hard exercise.

All-season exercise

The key to a lifetime of fitness is consistency. Here are some tips to help you make exercise a habit.

It’s a good idea to choose more than one type of exercise to give your body a thorough workout and to prevent boredom. Also, you might want to choose one indoor exercise and one outdoor activity to allow for changes in your schedule or for inclement weather. Very few people live in a climate that’s temperate yearround. But weather extremes don’t have to interfere with your exercise routine if you make some minor adjustments.

When it's hot or humid:

When it's cold:

Year-round safety

No more excuses

Among the factors you should consider in developing your workout schedule are personal preference, job and family responsibilities, availability of exercise facilities and weather.  It’s important to schedule your workouts for a time when there is little chance that you will have to cancel or interrupt them because of other demands on your time.

You can probably come up with plenty of excuses for why you’re not more active. You’re too young, you’re too old, you’re too busy, you’re too tired or you’re in pretty good shape—for your age. There are activities for the young and old and for those with little time. So the next time you think about getting fit, don’t ask “Who has time?” Instead, ask yourself “Who doesn’t want to feel better?”


Pamphlets from the Federal Government:
The quarterly Federal Consumer Information Center Catalog lists more than 200 helpful federal publications. For your free copy write Consumer Information Catalog, Pueblo, CO 81009, call 1-888-8-PUEBLO or find the catalog on the Net-

Internet information:

MetLife Online (

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President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports




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