Couch Potatoes Have Pretty Feet

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By Chuck Dale

Ok, now that you are curious as to what this title means, I want you to find a place to sit down, wherever you are, and take off your shoes, socks, crocs or sandals and take a good look at your feet.

About half the way through a run one day with a client, she looked at me and said, “you know, I’d bet that couch potatoes have pretty feet.” She continued, “ before you and I started training together, my feet were soft, smooth, and pretty, but since we have been training, I’ve noticed how rough and calloused they have gotten, so I’d bet couch potatoes have pretty feet.”

A sedentary lifestyle is a medical term used to denote a type of lifestyle with no or irregular physical activity. A person who lives a sedentary lifestyle may colloquially be known as a COUCH POTATO. It is commonly found in both the developed and developing world. Sedentary activities include sitting, reading, watching television and computer use for much of the day with little or no vigorous physical exercise and it can contribute to many preventable causes of death.

It’s really not that hard to not be a couch potato. You don’t have to be a bodybuilder, or run a marathon, or exercise to the point of pain, although those things can be fun and rewarding. All it takes is about an hour per day, 6 days per week, of exercise that is more vigorous than your normal daily routine.

In many years as a fitness trainer, I’ve heard many excuses as to why someone can’t workout, but the one I’ve heard the most is “I don’t have time. “ Every single time I’ve heard that excuse, I’ve shown that person they could put one hour in their day for exercise. The next two most popular excuses are “I don’t know how to exercise,” and “I can’t motivate myself to exercise.” The internet, a library, a bookstore, or a personal trainer can quickly take care of excuse number two.

As for excuse number three, a sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical exercise can contribute to or be a risk factor for: anxiety, cardiovascular disease, mortality in elderly men by 30% and double the risk in elderly women, deep vein thrombosis, depression, colon cancer, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, and kidney stones. Wow, if that doesn’t motivate someone to exercise! Get your butt up and do something! That’s the trainer in me, which can also help with excuse number three. It’s pretty easy to find a personal trainer these days, and it isn’t as expensive as most people think. Another way I’ve found has been good for motivation is to find a training buddy. It’s harder to miss a workout when there is someone depending on you to be there.

Now let’s get to training. If you don’t walk, walk. If you walk, then jog. If you jog then run. It’s that simple. If you don’t like to exercise on your feet then ride a bike or swim. The program I p r e f e r i s a c o m b ina ti on o f cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility exercises. Here’s an example; do some sort of vigorous movement that raises your heart rate into its training zone and maintain that for 30 minutes. To find your heart rate training zone, do a little homework and look up the Karvonen formula.

Next comes strength training. Strength training is the use of resistance to muscular contraction to build the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. If you don’t want to go to a gym, you can purchase strength gear at most stores, or the internet to use at home. If you don’t want to purchase gear, then use things that are already in your home. A gallon of milk weighs about 8.6 pounds, and a can of green beans about a pound.

My favorite piece of strength training equipment is my body. You can do pushups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, dips, crunches, all with your body weight and the great part of that is your body is always with you, woooo hoooo! However you decide to do your strength training, you should do it for about 20 minutes immediately after your cardiovascular training. Do two sets of ten repetitions, for each of the exercises I listed above. Only rest about 30 seconds between each exercise and that should take care of the 20 minutes.

Ok, your workout is almost over. After cardio and strength training do about 10 minutes of flexibility training with the last couple of minutes relaxing yoga style stretches. There have been many debates on whether to stretch before or after a workout but I’ve had the best results after. When muscles are warm they seem to respond better to the stretches. You may need to do a little homework on the stretches and be sure to stretch your entire body.

Well that’s it, how easy was that? Remember to start slow and pace yourself. Many times when folks find the motivation to exercise, they go full speed and end up sore and frustrated and stop within a few weeks. Also, January is a popular time to begin exercising with New Years resolutions and all, so if that’s what you need to get started go for it. Maintaining your health by proper nutrition and exercise doesn’t have to be hard, scary, frustrating, or any other word we have heard to describe it. What it should be is a lifestyle. Make it part of your daily life, just as you do your family and your job. Today is the beginning of your new lifestyle.

In the time it took you to read this article, and the magazine containing it you could be half way through your workout. So get up and do something. Happy training!

Chuck Dale has been a fitness trainer for nearly 25 years. He has trained with clients from ages 8-90 yrs, amateur to pro athletes.