Washington, Mo. – When the weather gets warm, people get more active, the trick is staying active to maintain a healthy lifestyle all year.
Regular fitness is a key to living longer, healthier lives, but just how good is it?
“Regular exercise, when it’s paired with proper diet and restful sleep, are the key elements of good health. They keep the body operating like it should,” said Mercy Clinic family medicine physician Gina Mohart, MD. “At proper levels, exercise helps you maintain an ideal weight, contributes to a more restful sleep, reduces stress and helps prevent illnesses.”
Excess weight and lack of exercise is linked to heart attack, diabetes, stroke and many other life-threatening diseases and chronic illnesses that keep people feeling unhealthy and un-energized. In the warmer months, when the days are longer, it’s easier for people to get outside and be active. It’s a good time for people to start new, healthier habits to improve how they feel inside and out.
“This is a good time to go for walks around your neighborhood, take bike rides, and play with your kids and grandkids,” said Dr. Mohart. “Think of something low impact and fun and set goals to do more challenging things.”
Starting out, too, people should consider simple ways to get a little more exercise, such as taking stairs instead of elevators or escalators. Parking farther away from the entrance when shopping and walking to the door is another option.
Dr. Mohart said it’s important to stay motivated in the early days of starting healthy habits and remain committed, because it takes time to see the results that will keep people engaged. It’s also important to consider how activities can be maintained once the weather turns cold.
“If you can join a fitness center, that’s great, but you don’t need to. You can exercise at home with a little space,” Dr. Mohart said. “Find exercises you like to do and find a fitness buddy to help you both stay motivated.”
Dr. Mohart recommends that people with risk factors for heart disease including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity who have not exercised should see their physicians before starting an exercise program. When people are ready, “Start small and work your way up to about 30 minutes a day,” she said. “As you progress, add higher impact activities to get your heart rate up.”
It usually takes several weeks before people start seeing and feeling changes. When they do, they are pleased by the difference. It can be as simple as losing a few unwanted pounds, increasing their energy and adding muscle. It can also mean lowering risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
“People who adopt a healthy lifestyle notice a difference in how they look and feel, and other people notice a change in them, too,” said Dr. Mohart. “When they’re committed, it becomes a part of their lives, like getting out of bed and brushing their teeth. Most of us are capable of making changes in our lives, one goal at a time, sometimes we just need a little motivation to do it.”
Dr. Mohart is part of Mercy Clinic Family Medicine, 440 N. Highway 19 in Owensville. Her partner is Trevor King, MD. For More information, call 573-437-6100.