Sunday, September 18, 2011

Good-bye, girls--part four

Here is yet another post in this lengthening series of advice to my daughters, wherein I attempt to convey to them everything I hope I've taught them and am afraid I have not (or something like that).

Today's post follows Good-bye, girls--part one, Good-bye, girls--part two, and Good-bye, girls--part three.

The last post (Good-bye, girls--part three) was supposed to be about health and beauty, but ended up only being about sleep. Today we will continue to look into healthy living. We'll see how far we get...

If you want to be healthy, you need to get enough exercise.
I don't mind admitting that I am really bad about exercise. I do not like to sweat. I do not like to feel pain. I do not like to get a stitch in my side or to wake up with sore muscles. I have never experienced the runner's high. Endorphins are alien to me.

But you both know that I have a really bad back/neck/shoulder situation. When I accomplish some moderate exercise, I really do feel better. When I let the vulnerable areas of my body get stiff from disuse, or when I spend long periods of time reading in foolish (but temporarily comfortable) positions, my neck goes out and I am in considerable pain. The more regularly I walk and stretch and keep those muscles warmed up and loose, the better they work for me.

The more exercise you do, the better you will feel and the stronger your body will be. Period. End of story.

I would be thrilled if you took up a sport or started working out for 45 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week in a gym. Just saying.

And then there is real life, which just doesn't usually work quite that way for most of us.

So this is about minimums. Just try to do what you can, as often as you can.

Have an exercise buddy. This makes a huge difference. Whether you are walking a neighborhood, jogging a track, or doing stair-masters in a gym, an exercise buddy makes it so much more fun! Besides that, if you are out walking or jogging in a public area, it is important for a young woman to have an exercise buddy for safety. Most of the young women who have been raped and murdered in Central Park in NYC were solitary joggers. So get an exercise buddy. And mace. Thank you.

Exercising with a buddy is a great way to develop a friendship. Especially if you walk with someone, you have such beautiful opportunities for conversation. And it is a no-cost activity you can do with someone else for fun!

I want to encourage you to do a minimum of 30 minutes of some sort of physical activity every week day, even if it is just walking (with a buddy, of course). Try to schedule some sort of more extended exercise over the weekend: a hike with friends at a nearby state park, a trip to a beach to go swimming and play beach volleyball, a service project to do yard work for an older person or couple who has trouble getting such jobs done. Try to get in at least 90 minutes of good physical activity or labor over the weekend. Your body will thank you as you age, if you develop such habits now.

Of course, exercise is a lot harder to accomplish in the winter. Since you are both students, check into what's available in the college gyms. You can walk in the winter, but I hate going out in the cold. Some people really enjoy bundling up with scarves, mittens and boots and going out to walk in a light snow, catching snowflakes on their tongues. You could try it; you might like it. And then there is always mall-walking. A couple of hours walking from end to end of a large shopping mall is pretty decent winter exercise, and you might even be able to get your Christmas shopping done early while you care for your body. Make a list and stick to it though, or this could get you into financial trouble.

I have also heard that if you exercise more vigorously, you can accomplish a lot more in less time. So if you do, say, 100 jumping jacks in the winter, that might make up for not going on a 30 minute walk. Anyway, if you're cold, it's sure to warm you up.

Exercise strengthens your muscles, gets your blood flowing, clears your mind and even sets you up for a better night's sleep. If you take good care of your body, it will take good care of you.

It is a beautiful fall day, and I am going to go see if I can pry Daddy away from watching football long enough to walk the neighborhood with me.

I want to say one more thing. You need about 20-30 minutes of time in the sun without sunscreen every day. You also need vitamin D. Vitamin D helps you with achy junk like headaches and leg cramps. It also boosts your immunities, and it is even good for your heart. Sunshine helps your body create vitamin D, so your vitamin D levels are closely related to your time outdoors... which is often the time you spend exercising. You should take a daily vitamin D supplement (1000 IU), and you should double your dose on dark, rainy or snowy days when there is no sun.

Tomorrow we will cover more on nutrition.

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