We all want to stay fit and healthy, no matter our age. Luckily it doesn’t take a fad diet or adherence to the latest exercise craze to stay in shape and pass the dreaded annual physical with flying colors. All you have to do is follow one simple formula: daily exercise + healthy nutrition = a fit and healthy you.
If last year’s annual physical left you feeling depressed or hopeless, have no fear. It really doesn’t take much to whip yourself back into shape. Most doctors agree that 20 to 30 minutes of daily exercise is enough to decrease your risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Need workout suggestions? Consider a brisk evening walk or a quick swim in the morning before work.
Getting a child to exercise can be a real challenge for some parents, especially if their son or daughter doesn’t like sports, isn’t athletically gifted, or prefers watching TV or playing video games. Still, this is one battle that’s worth fighting, as reports a study earlier this year by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. The study found that students who exercise regularly miss fewer classes, are less likely to engage in risky or antisocial behavior, concentrate more, and attain higher test scores.
In this tough economy, when many school districts are trimming their budgets by trimming gym classes, and with more children overweight than ever, finding creative ways to get your children up and about has never been more important.
Here are four simple steps to get your kids moving to something other than the couch, refrigerator or game chair:
The physical benefits of regular exercise are obvious. However, you’ll enjoy additional bonuses outside your dazzling annual physical exam.
Some of the lesser recognized benefits are just as important as the physical quality of your body, effective weight management and control, and cardiovascular development. Understanding some of these extra features should help motivate you to adopt a regular exercise program, however modest, that fits your lifestyle. Regular exercise—
- Brightens your personality. After a long day at work or facing other issues, your mood and naturally sunny personality can suffer. However, a gym visit or just a long walk will clear away the clouds and restore your positive personality.
- Minimizes stress. Whether your stress is from career, budget, or health issues, regular exercise reduces this condition, stimulating beneficial chemicals in your brain and relaxing your body.
Mention exercise to some people—particularly devoted couch potatoes—and you’ll receive looks of horror, disbelief, and the always dependable, “deer in the headlights.” Those to whom the thought of exercise conjures disturbing images of overweight or muscle-bound people, sweating profusely, and pumping heavy iron, need to take a deep breath and just calm down.
While you can certainly choose to spend your off-hours at a state-of-the-art gym working on your abs, arms, legs, etc., to create a sculptured body, it is not a necessity to feel healthier. You can even exercise with your baby or young child, implanting wonderful, healthy habits at their young age.
Types of Exercise
- Flexibility. Stretching and range of motion exercises help everyone and can be done daily without consuming large blocks of time or risking injury. If you have arthritis or worry about getting “long in the tooth,” stretching will help you loosen up those annoying stiff joints upon rising in the morning. Among the more effective flexibility exercises are yoga and tai chi, but just stretching your arms (biceps and triceps) and legs (quads, calves, and hamstrings) are wonderful to keep you healthy and trim.
It doesn’t ever seem like there’s enough money to do all that is needed. We’ve got a few ideas that will help you stretch your dollar just a bit more.
Here are a few tips for creating a realistic and financially sound budget:
1. Get out your bank statements from the past three months, and then…
- On a piece of paper or on the computer, make two columns. Jot down your monthly income sources in one column, and your monthly expenses in the other column.
- Distinguish between your fixed (unchanging) expenses – such as rent or mortgage payment, cable TV bill, car payment and minimum credit card bill – and your changing expenses – such as groceries, entertainment and eating out.
2. In the “expense” category, include an amount to save and an amount for unknown expenses.
- Save about 5 to 10 percent of your monthly income, to go into a savings account.
- Set up an automatic transfer into your savings account each month.
- Add a buffer for unknown expenses, such as car or home repairs. Not sure how much money to set aside? Think bigger than you might need. That way, if you don’t spend the entire amount, you can make an extra payment on a credit card, or deposit the money into your savings account, or carry forward the amount to next month.
3. Do the math.
- Tabulate the total for monthly income and the total for monthly expenses.
- Subtract the total expenses from the total income.
- If there’s money left over under “income,” put it in a savings account. Coming up short? Take a good, hard look at where you’re overspending – and start to cut, cut, cut.
Some Ways to Cut Back
- If you go to the movies, go to matinees. They’re much cheaper than nighttime movies, and a great way to spend time with your family. Remember to take snacks with you, rather than buying expensive snacks at the movie theater. Better yet, rent a film and have a movie night at home.
- Make several large meals, and use the leftovers during the rest of the week.
- Use grocery-store coupons, but only buy what you need. Stay away from buying in bulk.
- Shop at consignment shops and outlet centers for bargains on clothing and home decor items.
- Instead of buying that expensive mocha frappuccino, search the Internet for a recipe for mocha frappuccino and then make it yourself for a fraction of the cost.
With a good, sound budget in place, you can sleep better at night and start building a nest egg for the future – and set a good example for the kids.