I hope you’ve been enjoying the blog about my Tour Across America and my new book “Revolutions” – hooking America on fitness with every turn of the wheel. The book chronicles my journey and goes into detail about my methods and plan to help the United States beat its obesity epidemic. It’ll be a real page turner!
As any reader or fan of mine knows; health, fitness and staying in shape is very important to me. As a Paralympic wheelchair athlete I have always worked hard to stay in shape and due to my injuries it is doubly important that I be aware of my body and keep it as healthy as possible. My dedication to fitness and health and my accomplishments as a champion wheelchair athlete helped open many doors and I was blessed by being appointed to The President’s Council on Physical Fitness by two American President’s. I’ve been fortunate enough to win gold medals in the Paralympics and other world competitions. Through hard work and God’s grace I was able to break athletic records. I love to compete. The thing is; I look around me and see able bodied people letting themselves slide into obesity and ill-health everywhere. Me, I’m stuck in a wheelchair but am able to find the inspiration and drive to stay in shape. I have a hard time understanding why an able bodied person would choose to be unhealthy, feel lousy, and harm themselves by eating garbage and letting fat rule and ruin their lives. I just don’t get it. I’m not here to preach though, I want to help. Maybe people just need a little inspiration, motivation and facts.
In that vein I will be posting some insights and tips about fitness that I hope will spark a little interest in getting off the couch and into your favorite (or soon to be favorite) activity.
Here are some fitness facts for you:
Fact #1 Being physically active offers a multitude of benefits. Besides the fact that you will look and feel better, you will feel and actually be smarter!
David Atkinson of the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas says “Exercise increases energy levels and increases serotonin in the brain which leads to improved mental clarity. So you will be mentally sharper which will help you at work, at home, in all aspects of your life. Heck, you might even be able to turn that extra brain power into money through a raise at work or a brilliant new idea!
Fact #2 Exercise is a great stress reliever. Experts agree exercise, in addition to releasing endorphins, elevates mood and fights depression. Life is full of stress and it can be a real killer. Find a workout you enjoy. Ride a bike, walk, run, lift weights, play a sport or take an aerobics or martial arts class. Once you start moving you will feel great and the stress will be a distant memory.
Fact #3 Exercise makes you more energetic. Far from making you exhausted or “spent”, exercise is known to increase energy levels. The strength, stamina, and endurance you get from exercise will give you levels of energy that will make you the envy of your friends and co-workers.
Exercise for yourself and feel great so you can enjoy the admiring looks and praise you’ll get from all those around you!
Fact #4 Exercise time is anytime! Often we complain we can’t find time to exercise. Sure at first it can seem hard but it gets real easy real fast. Instead of the elevator, take the stairs. Instead of driving to the store, if possible walk. If you drive, park far out in the parking lot so you can get a few extra steps in. Mow your own lawn, rake your own leaves, vacuum your house or clean your garage! Stand instead of sit. Bring some exercise bands to work and do a few exercises at your desk. Every little bit is important and it all adds up to something great. Just get physical!
Fact #5 Exercise promotes better sleep and fights illness. Lack of sufficient sleep leads to extra stress (which also leads to lack of sleep, a vicious cycle) and lowering of the immune system. Exercise will restore your body’s natural rhythm of activity and rest leading to better sleep patterns. Also, research has shown that exercise can slow or prevent heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis and loss of muscle mass. Stay fit and you’ll stay healthy.
Fact #6 Exercise prevents injury. It’s true. An exercise program properly executed will build the muscles that support our day to day activities. For example having a good core and developed muscles for the lower back can prevent many of the aches and pains the unfit experience today. Reaching for something on the top shelf or bending over to pick something up should not hurt. A well balanced musculature will allow the body to function in the way it was designed and you’ll be much safer from injury and suffer fewer aches and pains.
Fact #7 With exercise you get to eat more! Hey, who doesn’t like to eat? A good meal can be a divine thing and when you exercise you get to enjoy it all the more. As you build muscle your body will naturally burn more calories (muscle burns more calories than fat to maintain itself) so you can eat more without gaining weight. Also, as you become more active you will raise your metabolic rate and need more calories to maintain your ideal weight once you have achieved it. So enjoy your workout and enjoy your meal!
Fact #8 Exercise is addictive – but in a good way! Sure, if you haven’t moved much in a while and the couch is your best friend it might be hard to get up and get active but I promise you my friend it’s worth it! Once you get yourself in a routine of meaningful physical activity both your body and your mind will start to crave it. The physical activity that was once such a chore will become a joy and you won’t know how you lived without it. Skeptical? Try it for a month and see my friend. You’ll start a journey that you won’t want to end.
Fact #9 Weight loss does not have to be your goal. Sure, a lot of people start exercising because they are larger than they would like but just because you are thin does not mean you are in shape. Do a few stairs make you winded? Need help carrying the laundry? Sweat when you eat? You probably could use some muscle and need to increase your aerobic capacity and endurance. You’ll feel better and perform better in all facets of your life.
Fact #10 Exercise makes friends! It’s always more fun to exercise with others than alone. Friends and family can provide encouragement and motivation to keep you moving. I know, you’re thinking; “Misery loves company.” Well you’re half right. Exercise friends make GREAT company! Join a team, get a workout buddy, or take a class. Maybe some folks at your place of employment would like to get in shape. You could even make it a competition for extra incentive! Whatever you do share you new found love for fitness and all the good things will happen for you.
Until next time, keep motivated, keep moving, and join the Revolution! Let’s get America fit!