- A level of exercise that is relatively easy, yet effective, at one stage of your personal fitness or weight loss program may be worthless at another stage.
- Exercise is one of those things where you get back what you put in, in terms of health, fitness, weight loss, energy, or combinations of those.
In other words, what is “easy” exercise for you might not be what is easy for your neighbor, or vice versa. Also, what is “easy” exercise for you when you begin it may provide you rewards in terms of health, fitness, weight loss, or energy at first. However, if you stay with that easy exercise, eventually your body will make changes within itself, and it will be necessary to adjust upwards.
Another aspect of easy exercise, however, is the idea of activity that you will stay with. This implies finding something interesting to do. Still, a drawback here is that although you may be really interested in some activity, you might not presently be fit enough to pursue it. Also, there is the fact that if you are not fit at this time, there are a lot of activities that might not appeal to you at all. However, were you to become fit through exercise and proper nutrition, you may find yourself interested in some of those activities.
So, the idea is to find something that is simple to do, that you can fit into your schedule, and that you can stay with. It possibly might not be appealing to you at the moment, but it needs to be something that you can decide to do and keep at with the idea that when you do progress to another level of fitness, you can add to or change that exercise completely.
For many people, one of the best exercises to get started with is walking…although not the only one.
Walking is something you do every day, something you know how to do, and something, that at the beginning, at least, requires no real preparation or equipment. Of course, at any level, a good pair of shoes is recommended.
Walking can be considered an easy exercise because to get started, all you have to do is increase the amount that you already do each day. In fact, at a beginning level, it is not necessary to do all your “exercise program” walking at once. If you need to deliver papers to someone at the other end of the block, why not walk around the block? If you have two parking places to choose from and one (which yesterday you would have dived for) is near the door, why not pick the one farther away? Walking for weight loss or exercise also gives you the option of simply getting up from what you are doing (or not doing) at any time of day and taking a walking break instead of a coffee break or grazing through the leftovers in the fridge.
By the way, I do not recommend skipping lunch in order to walk. I DO recommend taking a walk on your lunch break, but leave yourself time to comfortably enjoy your meal. It is the accumulated activity of each day, rather than a lot of activity on one day, that produces the most overall health benefits…particularly for the beginning exerciser.
In time, if you want to escalate your program, you can find some hills to walk up and down, you can climb stairs at work instead of taking the elevator. More than one out-of-shape individual went from walking to the mailbox to running marathons. However, and particularly at first, be careful not to task yourself too much. Any one who has not been exercising needs to ease into it and not try to go too fast. If you are doing more than you did last week and are eager to keep adding, you are at a good level.
One point to remember is that thing about getting back what you put in. When you begin walking, or gardening, bike riding, swimming…whatever, you will be at a level that will not cause huge weight loss or make you into an Olympic athlete. However, if you are doing more than you were and are doing it regularly, four or five times a week, your body will be making adjustments to your level of health and fitness even if you cannot see them yet. Keep at it and keep moving forward and the adjustments will become visible and you will be shopping for new clothes, and maybe some new sporting equipment as well. That’s okay, because you will possibly be saving on medication and doctor’s visits.
Another important point is that no one activity or exercise is the “perfect” exercise. Walking, while a great overall conditioner and contributor to general health, and cardiovascular health in particular, does little for upper body strength or flexibility. Weight training and other forms of resistance training, as most people do it, can do wonders for upper and lower body strength, but might not contribute much to cardiovascular health by itself. A good set of stretching combined with common calisthenics might contribute to flexibility with some strength benefits, but the cardiovascular benefits might be lacking.
Almost any of the activities mentioned above can be combined or alternated in ways to produce all the desired and anticipated benefits. In fact, having a large number of exercise options open to you not only creates opportunities to affect all aspects of fitness, but makes exercise easier in that you have a selection to choose from and can vary your healthful activity based on the day’s schedule or circumstances and your particular needs and wants at the moment.