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Exercise Tips for Couch Potatoes
Question: What's the best way to get exercise when you've been a couch potato for years?
Answer from: Kathleen Zelman, R.D., nutrition expert
Regular exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle. The easiest way to start exercising is to work physical activity into your daily life—a few minutes at a time. It all adds up.
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Meet Kathleen Zelman, Nutrition Expert
Answering your questions about diet and nutrition
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD is a nutrition expert with more than 30 years of experience helping people eat better. For years, Kathleen has spread the word about good nutrition as a radio host, national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and as an award-winning nutrition journalist. She has been recognized by the Academy and the American Society for Nutrition for her work in translating scientific recommendations into user-friendly advice that motivates people to lead healthier lifestyles.
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I love the honesty of this question. One of our viewers wants to know, what’s the best way to get exercise when you’ve been a couch potato for years. So kudos to you that you know how important it is to start, get started, get off the couch and try and get some regular exercise. So I have a couple of tips for you. First of all, find a buddy. Making a commitment to another person really will help you get out of bed in the morning when you’d rather sleep and get your exercise more consistently because you know somebody’s counting on you. Do it in the morning. Getting exercise or some kind of physical activity in the morning will prevent it from being scheduled out of your day. At the end of the day we’re often tired and it’s a little harder to get the motivation to get going – especially when you’d rather sit on that couch, so try the morning. Think about multi-tasking. How can you make every step count? Whether you’re parking further away at work or you’re taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking with a little bit more pace. Or even when you’re standing at the stove and you’re cooking can you be doing, can you be doing squats or something. You know, working exercise into your daily life so that you become just a little bit more physically active. And think about small increments so that if you can’t do or you’re too tired to do more than a ten minute work out or walk well that’s fine, try to get three of those in in a day. So aim for at least 30 minutes a day and then you can add them in increments, or you can do them in longer stretches but it counts, it really counts even if they add up. Ten minute sessions, three ten minutes sessions are just as good as one thirty minute session. And then I would say find your pleasure. What do you like to do? Mine is tennis. I mean and it doesn’t feel like exercise, it feels like fun. Or maybe you like to ride your bike or maybe you like to walk the dog or dancing, put on some music and dance. Something that makes you happy. So finding your pleasure really makes exercise not seem like drudgery and makes it fun and you really want to think of it as just like eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise is essential to good health. It’s good for your bones. You need that weight-bearing exercise and especially as you get older it becomes a lot more important. Mix up the intensity. Think about cardio as well as strength training. Even if you’ve got some rubber bands or you can lift some cans we also need to not only get that cardiovascular exercise, but we also need to do a little strength training a couple of times a week. So good luck! I’m thrilled you’re getting off the couch, and you’ll feel better – you might feel achy so don’t overdo it but, it’s a good thing.