San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

May 2nd, 2014
Unsolicited Advice: For a healthier heart, get to stepping

EDITOR’S NOTE: The San Marcos Mercury’s new UNSOLICITED ADVICE blog invites local people to share practical tips for living better. If you have an idea for a future entry, please send us a note.

Unsolicited Advice: A community blog

Most adults know that having an active lifestyle is a huge part of maintaining a healthy heart. Exercise can reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, elevate your mood and improve mental focus.

unsolicited-advice-tannon-carrollHowever, getting exercise isn’t always easy. There are just so many things that need to get done during the day, so exercise seems like less of a priority. And it’s often the case that exercise seems more tedious than it is appealing.

The solution to this problem is sneaking cardio into your daily routine, which will save time and improve fitness.

Use a pedometer

Wearing a pedometer and recording your daily steps and distance is a great motivating tool toward healthier living. You can wear a pedometer all day and record total steps or just when you work out. Now, there are many affordable pedometer options available, from pocket-sized devices to watches and mobile phone apps. Keep track of how much you’ve walked each day and set goals for yourself to track your progress.

Park farther away

Instead of going through the hassle of fighting for the closest parking spot every time you go grocery shopping, pick the parking spot on opposite end of the lot. Not only will it save you the stress of fighting for a front-row spot, you’ll add in longer stroll to and from your car.

Make that short drive a short walk

Whether you’re driving down the street to visit a friend or making a quick trip to the store, walking can be an excellent way of fitting in some exercise. Try putting your favorite walking shoes by the door at night so they will be the first thing you see in the morning. It will remind you that being active is a priority.

Dance your way to good health

Dancing is a great way to keep your body active. You can dance during commercial breaks, while you’re waiting for your tea to brew or even while you are brushing your teeth. The truth is you can sneak activity anywhere. Plus you will have more fun dancing than if you were just standing still. Not a fan of dancing? Try marching or jogging in place.

Make extra trips

If you’re like most people, grocery shopping means carrying as much as you can in one trip. However, taking more trips means getting you’re getting more exercise. Go up the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk up the escalator instead just riding it. Always be safe, of course, and hold the hand rail.

Try a new hobby

It can be easy to get stuck in a rut thinking exercise is only walking on a treadmill. While treadmills are great, explore other options too. Sign up for a dance class or swim class at your local community center. Mix exercise and the great outdoors by taking up hiking, bird watching or gardening.

Find a friend

Any kind of exercise routine, heavy or light, becomes much easier to stick to when you have a friend join you. Whether it is a scheduled time at the fitness center or a brief walk during lunch a few days a week,friends are always excellent company and motivation. Plus you can keep each other accountable for regular exercise.

Take the stairs

When going upstairs, skip the elevator to add a few more steps into your day. Walking up and down stairs is a great way to rev up your cardiovascular system.

Hydrate often

Drinking more water means a healthier metabolism and it also means more trips to the bathroom. Not only is making more trips good for your overall health, you can use this time to travel to a bathroom on a different floor to sneak in a longer walk.

Move while you talk

Try walking around the room the next time you talk on the phone. Opt for taking a brisk walk or do some gentle stretching rather than sitting in a lounge chair.

Make the commitment to yourself

Remember, no matter what you choose to do, the first step is just to decide to do it. Get creative and step outside your comfort zone. Always check with your doctor if you’ve got questions or concerns or before starting a rigorous activity plan. The key is to simply find a way to begin and as they say, just do it.

TANNON D. CAROLL, M.D., is board certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease with Seton Heart Institute at Seton Medical Center.

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