Sunshine Natural Food & Grocery | Grants Pass, OR

Staying Fit Without The Gym

Staying Fit Without The Gym

     For some reason we Americans are drawn to extremes. When it comes to physical activity, many of us   frantically work-out frequently, but at other times, desperately try to avoid the slightest heart rate increase.

     stay fit without the gymGo to any area health club and you can observe this phenomenon. Often the club exercise bikes are full, with other people, standing still, waiting in line for their turn. Outside, the club bike racks  are empty and the parking lot is full of cars. Generally the parking spaces closest to the club’s front door are the ones that fill up first. We avoid free exercise on our way to paying for exercise. If you belong to a health club, you know that I’m not making this stuff up.

     The only walking done by many golfers today is from the course parking lot to the golf cart pick-up booth. Those golfers are so close to honest-to-goodness actual cardiovascular exercise it almost makes them sweat. For some reason we Americans tend to compartmentalize,instead of combining, the activities we engage in.

     This is not an attempt to get couch potatoes to exercise but rather I am trying to convince  those who are already physically active to begin exercising their common sense along with their bodies.

     Summer is the season when it’s really easy to break out of old habits. Our daily routines can easily be adjusted to include lifestyle changes that will help us stay fit and save money.. It’s gets light early and dark late and the summer weather is practically begging us to take the plunge.

     Exercising outdoors with your family is a great opportunity to have fun while improving your health and well-being.  A 2011 study by the Peninsula College of Medicine confirmed that exercising outdoors in the natural environment not only burns calories and builds fitness and is also linked to greater feelings of revitalization and increased energy, along with decreased tension, anger and depression.

     Now is the perfect time to begin incorporating long-term lifestyle changes that are basically free and, with ongoing participation, will yield benefits forever.. The specific change I am suggesting is walking or biking to work, play, sporting events, church and basically, everywhere else. .

     The Journal of the American Medical Association  published the results of a study that demonstrated that the lifestyle change of biking to work was just as effective in increasing cardiovascular health as a structured exercise program, even for previously sedentary adults.

     The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine conducted a 1 year study that demonstrated significant cardiovascular improvements in people who biked to work as little as 3x per week, 2 miles each way. Total cholesterol and blood pressure decreased and good cholesterol increased. That test group was average healthy adults, but similar results have been achieved with tests involving the obese.

     So even if you are currently a couch potato, taking up the money saving activities of walking or riding to work will make you healthier and help you stay fit.. My wife and I frequently walk to local restaurants when dining out. One thing is sure: by exercising to and from dinner, we enjoy more dessert, with less guilt.  Walking and riding are easy, fun and practically free—plus there is no membership or spandex required. What more could anyone ask for?

     I’m currently in my 31st year of year-round bicycle commuting. In 2009, I only put 2 tanks of gas in my car the whole year and have saved tens of thousands of dollars in the last 3 decades by relying on pedal power. Going to work I don’t need coffee to wake up or to jump start my brain, the fresh air and exercise do that. The evening ride home helps calm and clear my mind, so my recreational “drug” of choice  has 2 wheels and hand brakes. 

     Summer is the ideal time to start getting in shape and saving money by exercising on your way to and from work and play. You might even get hooked and decide to continue exercising common sense along with your body, year round. Staying fit can be shockingly simple.

Rob Pell owns and operates Sunshine Natural Foods in Grants Pass, Oregon and has 35 years experience helping people with with natural foods, products, exercise and healing. This article appeared in The Daily Courier 6-20-2012