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Monday, June 05, 2006

Weight Loss Tips

11 Clever Ways to Fit Weight Loss Into Your Day

When you think of exercise, you probably think of structured workouts such as Pilates or running. In fact, aerobics classes and jogging schedules are relatively new and, for many, unnecessary ways to stay fit. You can reap the same rewards with a basic "bottoms-up" approach to fitness -- that is, don't sit when you can stand, and don't stand when you can walk. Now, that's a motto to live by! Here you'll find several similar suggestions to help fitness find its way into your day.

Meaningful movement.

Small bouts of "lifestyle activity," such as walking around the block after dinner instead of watching a game show or pacing while you talk on the telephone rather than sitting, are by no means intense. Nevertheless, they can be just as good for you as more vigorous exercise, according to research.

In a two-year study of more than 230 overweight and inactive men and women, researchers at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas found that those who sneaked more movement minutes into their days by taking the stairs at the office, parking farther from the door at shopping malls, and pulling weeds around the yard achieved the same improvements in fitness, blood pressure, and body fat as those who went to the gym and exercised vigorously for 20 to 60 minutes five days a week.

In a similar study, Johns Hopkins University researchers found that people who added just 30 minutes of lifestyle activity to their days lost almost 10 pounds during the 16-week study period -- more than a comparable group who did step aerobics three days a week.

Small time investments yield big payoffs. The key is finding active opportunities throughout the day, every day. Once you start looking, you'll be surprised by how many minutes in motion you can rack up. Most doctors and the government don't consider "sitting" a disease, let alone a problem. To them, the notion of "sitting disease" is probably ridiculous! We beg you to think otherwise.

In many ways, sedentary living is a much bigger health problem than the more talked-about concerns such as cholesterol and high blood pressure, because if you conquer sitting disease, chances are you'll prevent these other health concerns from ever emerging.

Before we get into more rigorous activity suggestions, though, it's time to get you into an active mindset. By that, we mean pursuing a daily style in which your every choice is the more active alternative. As you go about your day, stand more, walk more, and get outside more! Below are some helpful tips that can increase your daily exercise time by 30 to 45 minutes while barely changing your routine:

1. Take at least two flights a day. Research shows that taking just two flights of stairs a day can add up to a 6-pound weight loss over a year. Regular stair stepping also improves bone density, aerobic fitness, and levels of good cholesterol. Always take the stairs at work and while shopping. If you have stairs at home, make one trip up and down before and after work to be sure you get in at least two flights a day.

2. Make the pizza. Cooking dinner burns more than twice as many calories as dialing the phone and flipping through a magazine for 20 or 30 minutes as you wait for the chow mein to come. And the food's often better, too. Prep and cook dinner at least one night a week, and preferably five or six nights!

3. Plan walk 'n' talks. Instead of sitting in a stuffy conference room gnawing stale doughnuts, lead your coworkers outside for roving meetings. Take a small pad and pen to keep notes. Everyone's brain will work better in the fresh air, and you'll have more energy when you return to your office.

4. Be an active spectator. Your kids' (or grandkids') sports practices and games are terrific opportunities for movement. Pace the sidelines. Walk around the field. Step up and down off the bleachers. The added activity will really give you something to cheer about.

5. Take the late spots. Five days a week, park in the first spot you see in the lot (usually "reserved" for latecomers). Where it's safe, do the same at malls, restaurants, and other destinations.

6. Do computer calisthenics. At the top of every hour, straighten and bend each leg 10 times, stand up and rise up and down on your toes 10 times, and stretch your arms to the ceiling before sitting down and resuming work.

7. Start a walking bus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 13 percent of kids walk to school -- a 66 percent drop from 30 years ago. Start your day off right and help your kids, grandkids, or neighbors' kids fend off future heart disease by starting a "walking school bus": Pick up the children at their homes in the morning and walk with them to school, following a set route. Then do the same in reverse in the afternoon. If the school is too far away, pick a central location, such as a park, where parents can take their kids, and use that as the pickup and drop-off point for your trips. Or caravan by foot to and from a central bus stop.
8. Pack a ready-to-go bag. Active moments can appear at a moment's notice. Meetings get canceled. Kids run late. Clients are stuck in traffic. Instead of sitting and stewing, strap on your sneaks and take a stroll. Keep a bag packed with sneakers, socks, baby wipes, and a small towel stashed in your car.

9. Think on your feet. Stand up whenever you need to write a list or jot down notes. It guarantees that you'll get off your seat and stretch your legs a few times a day.

10. Dial M for "move it." When the phone rings, stand up, and don't sit down until you're done with the conversation. Walk around the house -- or even the yard -- to squeeze in extra steps.

11. Turn ad time into active time. Do chores during the commercial breaks in your favorite TV show or shows. Popping up to do laundry, empty wastebaskets, gather dirty dishes, or wipe countertops can add up to 14 to 24 minutes of activity during an hour-long show, and you'll save hundreds of calories by not snacking instead.

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