How to fit exercise into your day

Students can find time for exercise in the morning, on the weekends, or after they finish their homework. Students are more likely to become committed to an exercise program if it is enjoyable and offers some variety. Three high-school students discuss their exercise routines.

Sam sets his alarm every morning for 5:30 a.m. so he can slip into the high school swimming pool by 6:30 to work on his endurance and the efficiency of his breast stroke. Have you noticed that swimmers are almost always morning people? If you’re not a morning person, you’re probably not a swimmer.

Football and basketball, wrestling, and track and field types usually work out after school to get in shape for their sport. But you don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from regular exercise–we all need to fit workouts in every week.

basketballFitting in exercise, though, is a challenge in itself. Just where are those cracks and crevices in the day? If you have a daily schedule full of intellectual and social pursuits, and you participate in theater, music, or the newspaper after school, how do you fit a workout in? And, once you’ve figured out your schedule, what can you do to keep motivated and to avoid having your good intentions dry up and blow away in the wake of a heroic start?

These questions were posed to some real high school kids.

David Bikes It

David Vanderlaan is a sophomore theater buff who also is involved in his school’s choral music program. David ranks high in his class academically, has a very busy schedule, but nevertheless finds time for a daily bike ride, whether it’s the real thing or the stationary variety.

cycling“In the summer,” David says, “I get in 20 miles almost every day. It takes me the better part of an hour. During the school year, I still go outside when the weather allows, but if not, I hop on my dad’s stationary bike and work out for a similar period of time. I usually do it after my homework, or in between assignments in the evening. But it’s an important part of my day, and I do fit it in.”

Liana Takes Time for Tai Chi

Liana Vazquez Gits is a junior who is a soloist in her high school’s choral music program. She takes a full academic load and is an honor roll student as well. Liana practices Tai Chi Chuan, a flowing oriental dance, in the morning before school for about 40 minutes, several days a week.

taichi“I love doing Tai Chi,” she says. “For me it’s a physical form of meditation that develops self-control in my body and my mind. It helps me in my music, my academics, and in almost everything else I do during the day. But if I didn’t find the time in the early morning hours, it wouldn’t get done. That’s the only hole in my schedule right now.”

John Plans on Fun

“How do I get exercise in? I guess I just plan fun into my schedule,” says freshman John Dotto. He is an honor roll student, active in debate, chess club, and his school newspaper, who admits to having so many girlfriends that he has a hard time keeping track of their names. But even with his wild and crazy schedule, a regular workout is part of his week.

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“I play roller hockey on the weekends. I get in a game of volleyball or a set or two of tennis during the week. In the spring and summer, I make it to the golf course several times a week. I even jump up and down when I play chess,” John says. “It seems like the more fun I plan for the week, the more of a workout I get, and that’s the way I like it to be,” he adds with a smile.

Make it Fun

Regularity and longevity are the two real keys to a successful exercise program. Anything you do regularly over a significant period of time is a winner. Anything you start but quit after two or three weeks is a loser, and you may as well not start at all.

As a rule, it’s best to start small and build if and when you feel like building. The basic idea is that you can only start from where you are, not where you or someone else thinks you should be.

With a little imagination a fitness program can be exciting, even adventurous. It is for this reason that athletes choose sports-oriented workouts. But there are plenty of other ways to spice up a workout routine.

You might, for example, really enjoy a leisurely run on a forest path, communing with Nature. Or you may find joy in learning self-control with yoga or martial arts. Step aerobics might be a challenge that you enjoy on a regular basis. In any case, the main point is “make it fun.”

One of the ways to maximize the fun is to include variety in your workout. Doing the same old routine every day can get tedious, dull, and, well … routine. That’s why cross-training has become so popular.

When you plan, keep in mind that there are three basic parts to physical fitness: physical strength (achieved in activities such as calisthenics or weight lifting), endurance or cardiovascular conditioning (found in activities such as running or jumping rope), and flexibility (found in stretching). If you use these three categories as your basic menu and choose something from each, you will have planned a workout that is not only lively and fun but produces results as well.

Always include warming-up and cooling-down exercises. In order to avoid injury, experts advise taking 3 to 5 minutes to warm up and to stretch before getting into the main activity. On the back side, a cool-down also allows you to slowly come back to a resting state.

Make Exercise a Habit

Plan for three or four workouts each week. On your off days, you could spend 5 to 10 minutes keeping an exercise diary, charting your progress, or just relaxing.

The world is made up of many different kinds of people. And everyone requires some regular physical exercise in order to function at his or her highest level. So fit some exercise into your week, make it fun, plan some variety–but most of all, make exercise a habit. You’ll not only be healthier, but you’ll be happier too.

Good-looking: the new definition; be fit, adopt a good attitude, and eat right

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Good-Looking: The New Definition

Joan looks in the mirror. “Yuck,” she says to herself. “My hips are so fat. Why can’t I be skinny like Christie Brinkley?”

Patrick finishes measuring his height — again. He still is 5 feet, 4 inches. “What if I never grow taller?” he thinks. “I’ll never be able to play basketball like Michael Jordan.”

When you meet someone for the first time, how do you form your first impression? How do you think other people make their first judgment about you? Some people look at eyes, some at smiles, and some at clothes or overall appearance: Is the person tall or short, fat or thin, neat or sloppy? Even if we do not readily admit It, we judge ourselves and other people on appearance. We are always aware of how others appear to us, and how we appear to others.

But how do we define attractive? Unfortunately, for years, women and men have been subject to constricting ideas about what is accepted as pretty or handsome. The good news is that now the rules that define good-looking have changed and the rigid concepts about a specific look no longer apply. body image is the way you believe you look to others, a perception that is now closely related to your overall health and to your self-esteem, not just your looks.

A History of Constraints

In the past, society has had different ideas about how to define attractive. At the turn of the century, both men and women were considered good-looking and healthy if they were overweight; it was a sign of wealth and good humor. The Gibson girl, a roly-poly artist’s ideal, was the dream look for women.

In the 1920s, thin made an appearance among fashionable people. Thin represented a glamorous, exciting, and daring life. Mass-magazine publishing and the movies made women particularly susceptible to the whims of fashion designers and Hollywood directors, who had the power to define a look. The 1950s brought the curvy, full-bodied look, a la Marilyn Monroe and other poster girls. Thin returned to the fashion scene in the 1960s and 1970s; and fad diets, pills , and even starvation created a lean, hungry look among fashion models that became the ideal reflected in clothes, advertisements, and movies.

A New Image Appears

But in the past few years, there has been a shift in thinking about one single ideal image. Men and women no longer have to be slaves to someone else’s idea of beauty. We now have the ability to fashion a body image that conforms to our own ideas of beauty, one that relates to our own not-so-perfect bodies. According to a recent Gallup poll, the healthy, fit body is the new American ideal of the 80’s. Although most men and women still have models of perfection, these are becoming less confining.

The principles of a healthy body can be summed up easily: exercise and good nutrition. A combination of a sound fitness program and a sound diet will make you look better and feel better.

Exercise-and-nutrition

Bodies are different, and we know that there is no such thing as a perfect body. The goals of the new body image should be, first, to accept what your genes have given you, and second, to make the most out of what you have. This means that you must begin to think of yourself as more than just a body. You may need to rethink your attitudes about being perfect.

Dr. Ann Kearney-Kooke, a leading body-image researcher and counselor, says that people should try to understand why they have certain feelings about their body. “If you understand where the feelings come from,” she says, “you can move toward changing them and learning to love your body.”

You are a person, and your body can only define you in a limited sense. Before you try to improve the outside, you must consider your inside first. What you think of yourself greatly affects how you seem to other people. A healthy body reflects a healthy attitude about yourself.

Genetics Does It Again

But first, a dose of realism. The body you are born with is the body you will always have. Genetic makeup determines not only hair and eye color, but height, shape, bone structure, and size of the body frame, as well as predisposition to fatness or thinness, a high or low metabolism, and physical attributes and deficiencies. Your gender determines the amount of muscle and fat in your body: Male hormones produce larger muscles, and female hormones increase body fat and distribute it around the breasts and hips.

In one sense, you cannot fight destiny. Remember Joan? Her mother, her aunt, and her grandmother all have wide hips; she has inherited that trait, and she cannot change it. It doesn’t mean, however, that she is unattractive or abnormal because her hips are larger than Christie Brinkley’s. And it doesn’t mean she has no control over how she looks. And if Patrick’s father and all his family are not tall, he may well only grow to 5 feet, 6 inches. Patrick may never play basketball like Michael Jordan, but he can still do well at basketball and other sports.

Get Moving

One of the best ways to a healthy body is exercise that includes a cardiovascular fitness program. Getting your heart into good shape means that your healthy heart will pump blood with less effort than an unhealthy heart. With a healthy heart, you will be better able to pursue all kinds of sports for fun and competition. Aerobic exercise is the best way to maintain cardiovascular health. Thirty minutes, three times a week will build up endurance.

Aside from keeping your heart fit, exercise will burn body fat that you store as energy. ridding your body of excess fat is not only better for you, but you will look more fit and more muscular. Strengthening exercises can tone your muscles as well.

Eat Well, Look Good

Diet is now a four-letter word. You do not have to starve yourself to be healthy and good-looking. Grape-fruit and saltines five times a day, pills, protein shakes, and other quickie ways to rid yourself of excess weight will only cause your metabolism to slow down as you take in fewer calories.

A Nutritious eating plan should concentrate on cutting down on fats (especially saturated fats found in many red meats, whole-milk products, and packaged cookies, cakes, and crackers), as well as excess sugar and sodium. Add high-fiber proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and complex carbohydrates (starches), and you will have eating habits that keep you healthy.

Creating Your Own Image

By taking the principles of good health and applying them to your body, you reshape the ideals of the past. Fitness is the concept that has shaped the ’80s. Fitness can be applied to anyone in any condition, of any size and any shape. It is the most democratic of all body images, since anyone can be fit. You may not have the body to be a model or a basketball star, but you can still create a healthy and attractive body that is all your own.

The legacy of the 1980s may well be the start of a new era of awareness about total body health — an attention to a healthy inside and a healthy outside. Your overall health no longer depends on height/weight charts. It doesn’t lie in the pages of some magazine or on the screen of the movie theater. Your body’s good health, and the look you want to have, now are in your hands.