Preventive Maintenance: Are you smooth when you move?

by Karen Bowen

What kind of shape are you in? Strong enough to meet physical challenges without straining? Can you get through the day and still have enough energy to handle emergencies – physical and emotional?

If yes, then, you’re physically fit. If no … Studies show that regular physical activity promotes good health and prevents disease. But, although we know this, over 60 per cent of North Americans are completely inactive. This inactivity leads to all the major degenerative diseases – heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Besides looking great, there are hidden benefits of getting into shape. Fit people are less prone to injury and disease. They sleep better. While they’re resting, the body is repairing injuries, cleaning out wastes, and building bone and muscle.

As well, because you expend more energy while you’re active, you can enjoy more food without worrying about your waistline. Activity helps you maintain a great lean body tissue to fat ratio. Weight-bearing activities build bone strength.

Being fit, you are more able to fight colds and other infectious diseases. You’re also less prone to some kinds of cancers.

Your cardiovascular activity improves your circulation and respiration making you less likely to develop heart disease. You probably won’t develop diabetes, either.

Your mental state will improve, also – physically active people deal better with psychological stress. Fit people feel good about themselves.

I can see what you’re thinking. That’s all good in theory … but, there’s no room in your cab for a universal gym. And besides, at the end of the day you’re beat.

Work your activities into your day. You just need 30 minutes throughout the day to improve your health. This winter my husband carried a shovel in his truck so he could move snow out of his path while unloading liquid gas from his tanker – good for other drivers and his health.

Think of what you’re already doing and total the time. Combine all your different activities: shifting loads, climbing stairs, walking back and forth from the coffee shop, securing your load. Spend more time on what you’re doing, or add some other activities. It only takes 30 minutes a day on any moderate activity to improve your health.

But, improving your fitness level is tougher. To do this, your activity needs to be continuous, and more intense. Three to five days a week, you’ll need to spend 20-60 minutes on an activity that uses large muscle groups and raise your heart rate to 50 per cent to 90 per cent of your maximum rate.

Take a jog before your shower. Pack a skipping rope in your duffle bag. As well, include some moderate strength training activities a couple times a week.

Get fit. You’ll look great. You’ll feel great. You’re worth it.

– Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at

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