Dr. Doug Layton is a physician at UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine at Prairie Trail in Ankeny, Iowa and is a frequent guest blogger on the Prairie Trail blog. Dr. Layton writes on a number of health and wellness-related topics and shares practical tips for making healthy lifestyle choices.
The last blog article I wrote was on easy ways to make diet changes to improve your health. The second part of the equation is how to add exercise to your lifestyle. Exercise is a vital way to keep your heart, lungs, muscles, joints, and brain healthy. I do want to state up front that exercise is not a great weight loss tool. The old saying is, “you can’t out run your fork,” but the other benefits still make exercise so important.
The hardest thing about exercise for many people is taking time and energy doing something you don’t enjoy. I have patients who are discouraged because they spend money on a gym membership, and then in a month or two they quit going. That is why I encourage people to spend some time finding something they like. Exercise does not need to involve spandex and a gym. What are your hobbies? What do you look forward to? Who do you like to spend time with? Answering these questions may be the key to starting and staying with exercise for life.
There are many interesting ways to get around exercise being tedious. The simplest is to vary what you do. You can walk/run in the neighborhood on Monday. Then bike the neighborhood Tuesday. Push-ups and sit-ups can be your workout Wednesday. You can walk up and down your basement steps for 30 minutes on Thursday. You can take Friday off. You may want to hit the bike trails on Saturday and go swimming on Sunday. This is still doing rather traditional forms of exercise with an unusual pattern to keep it fun.
The next strategy would be to take routine things you do around the house and turn them into ways to exercise. Park the tractor and push-mow your lawn. Shovel (not snow blow) your drive. Plant and maintain a garden. Park your car at the back of the lot, or just walk to the store. (It is 0.6 miles from SW 18th street in Prairie Trail to the Ankeny Prairie Trail Hy-Vee.)
Exercise should only take a half hour a day. The thing often adding to that is travel time and set up time. Exercising at home with just your own body weight as your equipment eliminates that extra time. Wall sits, push ups or plyometric push ups, sit ups, squats (one or two legs), lunges, chair dips, leg lifts, or donkey kicks can all been done anywhere with no preparation. There are multitudes of websites listing and describing body weight exercises.
Lastly, I wanted to mention the way I like to make exercise fun. I include my dogs. Whether it is a walk in the neighborhood, throwing a retrieving bumper, a hike at Chichaqua wildlife area, a swim in the lake, or hunting pheasants or mushrooms, my dogs and I can find a way to have fun getting some exercise. Along that line, don’t forget to attend Puppies in the Park at Prairie Trail on August 2nd in Precedence Park. There with be health tips and community connections for you and your four legged workout partners.
Learn more about Puppies in the Park
Read more from Dr. Layton on the Prairie Trail Blog:
Can you really eat healthy at McDonalds?
Read about a science experiment that made national headlines and how Dr. Layton was involved.
A Healthy Lifestyle
Dr. Layton explores the advantages of a Mediterranean Diet.
Patient Centered Medical Home
UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine at Prairie Trail commits to become a certified Patient Centered Medical Home.