Simple tips to boost your health, wellness, and fitness

Simple tips to boost your health, wellness, and fitness

People have questioned me as to why, at The Wellness Clinic, we offer a free consultation before starting a program. It’s very simple. People need to know before they get started on their journey to improved health that it doesn’t happen just because you sign up. It’s hard work, but it’s well worth the effort. 

Weight loss, lowering blood pressure, reversing diabetes or prediabetes, and lowering cholesterol are all very possible. But there are no easy solutions. We have neither a magic wand nor a magic pill. What we do have is a good education based on what the latest scientific research has to offer. We can give you motivational techniques and, eventually, a path to good health, lower stress, and a happier life. 

With all this effort to change our lifestyle habits, what are we actually achieving? That is what Zack asked me when he came to sign up for our program. Zack is 44 years old. Over the last eight years, he has gained 12 kilos and is starting to have health problems. He is pre-diabetic and his blood pressure, which was always normal, is creeping up. He is at a low level of fitness with no formal exercise in his daily routine. But to his credit, Zack realized that he needed to make some changes. 

Good health starts with good changes

Changing habits and behaviors is the way to achieve good health. When we inculcate good, healthy behaviors into our everyday lives, we cut the odds of illness and disease substantially. So, when you start walking briskly six days a week, build some muscle twice a week, and change to healthier eating (and, as a consequence, lose some weight), you improve your likelihood of having a better life. 

How important is exercise? Let’s take a closer look at what decades of research have shown us about making exercise a priority in our lives. 

WALKING, WHETHER on a treadmill or outdoors, is an incredibly powerful medium for overall health, the writer stresses. (credit: Alan Freishtat/The Wellness Clinic)

Diabetes: If you are pre-diabetic or have a history of diabetes in your family and you exercise, you cut down the odds of getting diabetes by 58%! 

Premature death: A study following 10,000 alumni from Harvard University showed that the risk of premature death went down 23% for those who exercise. 

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Osteoarthritis: If you’re older and have some of those aches and pains, start walking six days a week and your pain and disability can be reduced by up to 47%. Your reliance on medicine for pain reduction can become substantially less or even eliminated. 

Alzheimer’s disease: Exercise is one of the ways we can reduce the odds of getting Alzheimer’s. Even if one already has the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, exercise can slow progress by up to 50% – that is a very significant number.

Anxiety: You can reduce your anxiety by 48%

Depression: Moderate exercise relieves symptoms in 30% of patients. For those who could be more intense in their workouts, 47% get out of their depressive state. 

Fatigue: Exercise is the primary treatment for that too. 

Low Fitness: One of the strongest predictors of early mortality is low cardio-respiratory fitness.

How much time and effort do I have to put in?

If you can walk daily for 30-35 minutes at a moderate-to-brisk pace, you will get all of the benefits mentioned above and maybe more. The minimum to aim for is 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week. Aerobic exercise is where oxygen is used as your main source of energy. Walking, jogging, swimming, biking, rowing, or jumping rope will give you the benefits you need. I emphasize walking because it is the easiest form of aerobic exercise. Even though walking 30-35 minutes consecutively is ideal, studies have shown that even walking briskly in 10-minute bouts is very valuable.

Make your walk to work or shopping part of your daily routine. This way, you don’t even have to set aside designated times. Another good idea is to set a time to walk with a friend. Enjoy the company! Before you begin a walking program, you should visit your doctor for a complete medical evaluation. Once you have the approval of your physician, you can begin. 

A few more walking tips

People who have been sedentary must start slowly and build up gradually. 

Start at a comfortable pace, walking as though you are slightly late for an appointment. 

Maintain good posture while you walk and look straight ahead. 

Swinging your arms increases your caloric burn greatly. Make sure your arms are moving forward and not crossing in front of you.

 A good, sturdy pair of proper walking shoes is essential. If you don’t have proper shoes, you may suffer some type of discomfort or even injury. For most people who walk a lot, 5-6 months is tops to hold on to shoes. 

Avoid boredom or monotony by taking music or an audio lecture with you. Changing your walking course from time to time is also a good idea. 

Make sure to take precautions against extreme weather. Wear a hat, even in the winter, to keep hydrated, and dress appropriately for the season.

Be careful to stay hydrated, even in colder weather. Remember to drink plenty of water before and after your walk. 

Remember, this is all about increasing the odds of good health. Nothing is foolproof and nothing is 100% protective, but the evidence is quite pronounced that exercise and good eating, meaning eating a plant-prominent diet, will improve your health and your quality of life – at any age! In forthcoming articles, I will be sharing details with you about my recent health scare and adventure so that, together, we can learn some very important lessons. 

Zack has only been in our program for six weeks. Some weight has come off, his blood pressure is down and he is already off his diabetes medication. It’s not magic; it’s hard work and effort. Incorporate healthy habits into your life and up your odds to “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.” 

The writer is a health and wellness coach and personal trainer with more than 25 years of professional experience, and has recently been appointed to the Council of the True Health Initiative. He is director of The Wellness Clinic and can be reached at [email protected].