Dr. Allmen can be found on her website, drallmen.com, discussing the important aspects of health and the midlife woman. This post was originally featured there.
May is physical fitness month. And while I suppose that May is a perfectly fine month to start thinking about getting fit, I also wonder if it wouldn’t be more efficient to think about fitness all year long? I know the weather is getting nicer, and the fear of squeezing into a bathing suit is looming large, but to work on our bodies throughout the year? That would take the pressure off of May! Then all we would have to do in May is the same thing we did in April and so forth.
As I go through my own midlife journey, I think a lot more about health and wellness. That is the real reason to get and stay fit. For those of us who need to shed a few pounds (and by us, I also mean me), I like to think of weight loss as health gain. That takes some of the pressure off, too. I am not aiming towards a weight goal. I am focused on overall health.
So let’s remove all the guesswork from what we should be doing every day to maintain good fitness. It all comes down to common sense and one simple math equation. According to the current American Heart Association (AHA) exercise guidelines, we need to be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Now the AHA came up with this great advice based on scientific evidence that clearly shows that this level of physical activity has a positive effect on reducing the risk of heart disease. That should be our number one goal, by the way, since heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S.
Now as far as weight loss is concerned, the AHA has different guidelines. Believe it or not, Ripley, we have to exercise 60 minutes every single day if we want our exercise regimen to contribute to our weight loss effort. I like to joke that the only people who have that kind of time are the exercise instructors. Most of us are struggling to dedicate even two days a week toward our own health. What that really means, though, is that there is room for improvement in our efforts. I am sure that most of us could find an extra 30 minutes here and there if we knew how important it really was to our overall health scheme of things.
The first step towards getting fit is taking the first step. So this morning, I am going to walk briskly on my treadmill while simultaneously carrying light weights and listening to my favorite disco tunes. My time goal is always 30 minutes at the minimum. After that, it is all bonus time in my mind. And what is good for the heart is also good for the mind, so be mindful of that and press on for another 10 minutes.
By the way, I really don’t care how I look in a bathing suit. I wear a long sleeve rash guard and lower body cover up to protect my skin from sun exposure. I resemble one of those 1920’s bathing beauties who are covered from head to toe. But underneath all that protective material is the fit body of a 50-something goddess… in my mind, anyway. And that is all that matters!