New Year! New You! Start Now and Keep Going

New Year! New You!
Start Now and Keep Going
by Mary Ellen Roelkey

It's late at night and here they come. The infamous infomercials that promise gorgeous bodies, six packs, and unbelievable figures, if you just order 10 tapes from Alice the Aerobic Queen or Buddy with the bulging muscles.
We've all been hearing about the health benefits of regular aerobic exercising and eating properly. Physical fitness is to the human body what fine tuning is to an engine. It enables us to perform up to our potential. Fitness can be described as a condition that helps us look, feel and do our best. Physical fitness involves the performance of the heart and lungs and muscles of the body.
Today there is an emphasis on looking good, feeling good and living longer. Increasingly, scientific evidence tells us that one of the keys to achieving these ideals is fitness and exercise.
Eating less or cutting back on fat in your diet won't keep the weight off. What you really need to do is strike a good balance between the number of calories you consume and the number you burn. The only way to do that is to exercise.
Aerobic exercise makes the heart and lungs work harder than they do at rest. Research has shown that regular aerobic exercise boosts the immune system, increases endorphins, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. Physical exercise promotes mental health, reduces anxiety and stress and promotes unity of mind, body and spirit.
There are many types of aerobic exercise to choose from including dancing, skating, skiing, running, walking, bicycling, stair climbing, and swimming.
Exercise is not just for the Olympic hopefuls or supermodels. In fact you are never too unfit, too young or too old to get started. Regardless of your age, gender or role in life, you can benefit from regular physical activity.
Now don't groan. By exercising, you can lose weight without drastically reducing the calories you consume or sacrificing important nutritional needs. Regular physical activity is much more effective at keeping the weight off in the long run than any diet.
Connie Burley is a Boonsboro High School teacher by day and in the afternoons and evenings several times a week she is a Body and Soul Aerobics instructor. I asked her how to get started with an exercise program. "You need to start at the beginning of a session because we teach all the steps and we show different power levels you can learn as we go, there is a little bit of a learning curve with the basic steps and what they are called," stated Connie. "You will need to be patient with yourself. I am not just making it up as I go [i.e dance sessions], they are choreographed routines checked for balance and safety. There are classes for different ages and there are co-ed classes. You need to get your heart rate up and move with the music. I think it is interesting and fun!"
Getting moving is a challenge because today physical activity is less a part of our daily lives. There are fewer jobs that require physical exertion. We've become a mechanically mobile society, relying on machines rather than muscle to get around. In addition we've become a nation of observers with more people (including children) spending their leisure time pursuing just that--leisure.
If you are interested if improving your overall conditioning, health experts recommend that you should get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity on all or most days of the week.
I interviewed several of the ladies in my aerobics class, asking them why they exercise and what benefits they attain. Debbie Karwoski said, "It is the only way I can maintain my weight. I [also] walk between classes."
"I do it for the exercise. I do it for the mental and stress release and I do it for the spiritual part of me. As I age I know I have to keep exercising," stated Susie Sholty.
The benefits of regular aerobic exercise are very apparent and should be incorporated into everyone's life. With aerobic exercise you can lose weight. One reason for this is because aerobic exercise not only elevates your metabolism while you're exercising, it can also keep it elevated even after you are done, depending of course on how long and how strong you exercise.
Wanda Stahl is a nurse and still finds time to attend class. "I see the results of not exercising at work with diabetes and hypertension and the long term affects," she said. "Also it is a great stress reliever from my job, which happens to be rather high stress at times."
Tina Hartman said, "I feel a whole lot better coming to exercise then if I don't--physically and mentally."
"Exercising makes me feel better, it makes the stress easier to deal with and it keeps my back in shape," said Linda Smith. Linda works a full time job as an administrative assistant and takes the time to attend class twice a week.
A complete fitness program should include aerobic exercise, muscular strength and endurance conditioning, as well as flexibility exercise.
By incorporating strength training into your activity program, as well as following a moderate diet, you'll be able to maintain lean muscle mass as you lose fat. Fact: Your muscles burn calories during physical activity. What you may not know is that your muscles also burn calories when your body is at rest. Increase your muscle mass and you will be increasing your body's capacity to burn calories both during activity and at rest. Muscle is much more metabolically active than fat; therefore, the more muscle you can add, the higher your metabolism will be.
In a recent report, the American College of Sports Medicine recommended completing two sessions of weight training combined with aerobics per week. Study after study is being published showing the immense health benefits weight training can impart.
Exercise is a well-documented means of maintaining muscle and losing fat. Follow a moderate low-fat diet and an exercise program that combines aerobic activity and strength training. That's the key to losing weight--and keeping it off.
Susie Fisher, a fellow aerobics dancer/exerciser said, "The benefits I get out of aerobics class are definitely the exercise and the comradely of friends and in addition to that the music is very inspirational to me."
"I need to take the aerobic exercise to have a cardio workout at least twice a week and I love spending time with all the girls," said Rose Landis.
What you want to get out of an exercise program has everything to do with the kind of program that will work best for you. Ask yourself, "What do I want to accomplish?" Do you want to lose weight? Get in shape and stay in shape? Maybe you'd like to reduce some of the stress in your life. Or perhaps you are serious about improving your overall health or increasing your muscle strength.
Physical fitness can be described as a condition that helps us look, feel and do our best. More specifically, the ability to perform daily tasks vigorously and alertly, with energy left over for enjoying leisure-time activities and meeting emergency demands. It is the ability to endure, to bear up to withstand stress, to cope in circumstances where an unfit person could not continue, and is a major basis for good health and well being.
So start your fitness program now and keep on going! Achieve and maintain a New You in this New Year.

Source: Fit Facts from: The American Council On Exercise