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Feature: Make exercise a hard habit to break

How you live your life is reflected in your habits, attitude and character. It is said that you only need seven consecutive days to build a habit. Good habits benefit not only your life but also your body. Making a habit of having a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a good, well-nourished body is already an achievement. This can be done through balanced diet and exercise. The Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos developed by the Technical Working Group led by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) recommends regular exercise for healthy living and good nutrition.

Here are frequently asked questions on exercise and the benefits it brings to one’s body.

How much exercise do I need?

Talk to your doctor about how much exercise is right for you. A good goal for many people is to work up to exercising four to six times a week for 30 to 60 minutes at a time. Remember, though, that exercise has many benefits that any amount is better than none.

How do I get started?

Start by talking with your doctor. This is especially important if you haven’t been active, if you have any health problem or if you are pregnant or an elderly. Start out slowly. Begin with a ten-minute period of light exercise or brisk walk everyday and gradually increase the intensity and duration of the exercise.

How do I stick with it?

Here are some tips that will help you start and stick with an
exercise program:

• Choose something you like to do. Make sure it suits you physically, too. For instance, swimming is easier for those suffering from arthritic joints and brisk walking for elderly.
• Get a partner. Exercising with someone can make it more fun.
• Choose a comfortable time of the day. Don’t work out too soon after eating or when it’s too hot or cold outside. Wait until late in the day if you feel cold in the morning.
• Don’t get discouraged. It can take weeks or months before you notice some of the changes brought about by exercising.

What is the best exercise?

The best exercise is the one that you will do. Walking is considered one of the best choices because it’s easy, safe and cheap.Brisk walking can burn as many calories as running, but is less likely to cause injuries than running or jogging. Moreover, it doesn’t require training or special equipment, except for a good pair of shoes. Walking is an aerobic and weight-bearing exercise, so it is good for your heart and helps prevent osteoporosis.

What are the benefits of a regular exercise?

• Reduces your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes and obesity
• Keeps joints, tendons and ligaments flexible so that it’s easier to move around
• Reduces some of the effects of aging
• Contributes to your mental well-being and helps treat depression
• Helps relieve stress and anxiety
• Increases your energy and endurance
• Helps you sleep better
• Helps you maintain a normal weight by increasing your metabolism, that is, the rate you burn calories

How can I sneak exercise into my day

• Take the stairs instead of the elevator
• Go for a walk during your coffee break or lunch
• Walk all or part of the way to work

Making exercise as a habit is beneficial to your body. All you have to do is give it your time, commitment and dedication. At the end of the day, what is important is that you have done great things for your body.

For more information on food and nutrition, write or call: Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City. E-mail: mvc@fnri.dost.gov.ph or mar_v_c@yahoo.com; Telefax: 837-2934 and 827-3164, or call: 837-2071 local 2296 or visit our website: http://www.fnri.dost.gov.ph. (Catherine Rose P. Josue, FNRI-DOST S&T Media Service)

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