Exercise is a Great Way To Control Weight, Feel Good and Reach Goals

Consistent exercise can improve overall health and wellness

Courtesy of UnitedHealthcare
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Losing weight can be a challenge, but regular exercise can make it much easier. Consistent exercise can improve overall health and wellness, and lower the risk of serious, chronic illnesses, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Over the past two decades, obesity has increased dramatically in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, and the numbers skew even higher among African American women, who have the highest rates of obesity.

The good news is that obesity is reversible and preventable with good nutrition and exercise. Sticking to a diet low in fat and sugar, and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat, fish, and whole grains is the first and best step in a healthy-eating program.

Exercise is the other step. So let’s take advantage of the warm summer weather and get our bodies moving outdoors. The CDC recommends two-and-a-half hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking, plus muscle-strengthening exercises such as weight training, push-ups and sit-ups. Granted, sticking to a regular exercise routine can be challenging, so here are some tips to help you overcome those common obstacles.

Obstacle: “I don’t know where or how to begin.”

Solution: Keep it simple. A good place to start is making walks part of your weekly routine. Invest in good walking shoes, grab your iPod and aim for a 30-minute walk several times a week.

Obstacle: “I have no time to exercise.”

Solution: Exercise in short segments. Many of us are busy juggling work, family and community activities, so try breaking your workout into smaller chunks of time. For example, a brisk, 10-minute walk three times a day, five days a week equals 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week.

Obstacle: “I don’t have access to a gym.”

Solution: Some communities lack fitness facilities, and health club memberships can be costly. But don’t let that dissuade you from being active. Grab your friends and plan group workouts in your local park, or take walks together at the park or at the mall.

Obstacle: “It’s hard to stick to a program.”

Solution: Create a support system by finding a workout partner. When you recruit a buddy you make yourself accountable to someone else so you’re less likely to blow off the workout.

Obstacle: “Exercise wrecks my hair.”

Solution: Avoid covering your head completely when working out. Instead, use a sweatband or even a hairnet. At the pool, wear a cap when swimming and choose a stroke or fitness class that keeps your head above water. Also, try a deep conditioner every one to two weeks, style your hair with a RollerSet instead of a curling iron (less heat), and never use an alcohol-based product on your hair before working out.

Once you start exercising, your increased strength, improved stamina and gradual weight loss will be all the motivation you need to keep going.

For more health information and exercise tips, visit UnitedHealthcare’s Generations of Wellness website at www.uhcgenerations.com. Be sure to click on the Virtual Family Reunion link and see how many calories you can burn by dancing to different forms of music, including gospel, hip-hop and old-school. Always talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness regimen.

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