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Wright Way: Exercise to Save Your Life

By ARLnow.com - ARLNow.com

Wednesday - 9/4/2013, 2:30pm  ET

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored health and fitness column is written by Virginia Wright, founder of BbG Fitness, which offers group fitness classes around Arlington. Sign up for a free class today.

Saving My LifeNo one likes to be preached to or told what to do — but I’m going to do it anyway: You’ve got to exercise. Your health depends on it!

A new government study estimates that nearly 80 percent of American adults don’t get the recommended amount of exercise each week (at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 1.25 hours of vigorous-intensity activity, or a combination of both) — potentially setting themselves up for years of health problems.

Think about it like this: It’s hard to wake up and get out of bed early, especially when it’s dark! It’s hard to sweat, and sore muscles hurt. It’s hard to exercise when you’re tired at the end of the day. Once you start, there will be times when you want to give up and it’s often hard to stick with it!

CartoonBut aging is a lot harder when you haven’t been physically active; it becomes harder to stand up and sit down. With less core strength, you may experience backache and suffer more falls, not to mention being at greater risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and other diseases. The longer you wait the harder it will be. Make the right choice. Do it now!

Stop making excuses and start making fitness part of your life. I know, you’re too busy, you hate to exercise, you can’t afford it, you get bored easily, everything hurts, you hate the gym, you never see results, you’ve tried and failed…

Turn those excuses into reasons: I’ll have more energy, I’ll sleep better at night, I’ll burn more calories at rest, I’ll be better equipped to handle stress, I’ll increase my lean body mass, I’ll be able to stay focused. I’ll be happier!

Ready to get started? Try these tips to increase your chance of success:

  • Make an appointment with yourself. You wouldn’t blow off a doctor’s appointment just because you didn’t feel like going. If you keep your exercise appointment, you won’t need as many doctors appointments!
  • Get a buddy. Working out with a friend is more fun, and being accountable to someone else helps you stay on track.
  • Set tangible goals. Don’t just say, “I’m going to start exercising.” Take time at the beginning of each week to plan which days you’ll exercise. Write down the time and the activity. Whatever you choose, be sure to elevate your heart rate for a minimum of 30 minutes. This means breathing heavily but able to carry on a conversation.
  • Find a form of fitness that works with your budget and schedule. We Arlingtonians have tons of resources available to us. See below, after the jump.

Here are some fitness ideas:

  1. Try an outdoor boot camp class where the instructors will tell you what to do and check on you when you don’t show up. You get to be outside and connect with nature every time you exercise. There are at least four good ones right here in Arlington.
  2. Group classes aren’t for you? Borrow fitness DVD’s from the public library or buy your own so you can exercise in your own home on your own schedule.
  3. Download exercise apps. Then set your alarm and get moving!
  4. Cycle to work or participate in free organized group rides.
  5. Form a lunch-time walking group and pump it up with interval training.
  6. Hike or run the trails at Potomac Overlook Park to elevate your heart rate.
  7. Print off free workouts to do alone or with friends and family.

There’s something for everyone in Arlington, and September is the perfect time to start. Just do it!

Fuel your body with whole foods and mentally prepare to work hard. Be consistent and you’ll see results — the best result is your good health. And most important, have fun!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.