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The Secret to a Healthy Body

The Secret to a Healthy Body
Walking on Beach

    The secret to a healthy body is simple and actually not too difficult, but all the same it does take daily discipline. In addition, it doesn’t need to cost you a lot of money. There are five areas of focus that will keep your body in shape, healthy, flexible, and strong. This article will outline the 5 areas to work on and will include a sample weekly workout regimen that you can start using today.

    1. Aerobic Exercise. The simplest way to meet this need is walking. Walking is the one of the best exercises for your body. The wear and tear on your joints is lower than jogging. Be sure to start off slower to warm up and increase speed slowly after about 3-5 minutes. To increase the intensity, simply lengthen your stride a bit and speed up your pace. The other strategy for increasing intensity is to increase your speed for short bursts of time. (see workout below) If you prefer, jogging is also good if it doesn’t bother your knees. Just know that walking is just as good if you go fast enough. No big investment needed. All you need is your sneakers, and maybe not even that if you walk on the beach. 30 minutes per day every day has been shown to be the optimal amount of exercise. If you don’t have time all at once, the same benefits are derived even if you break it up into 3 X 10 minute or 2 X 15 minute sessions.

    2. Stretching. An important age marker is your level of flexibility. Yoga is a terrific way to keep your body flexible. If you don’t have time for a full yoga session, try to make sure you do 5 minutes of stretching each day after your aerobic exercise. To ensure you get most areas of your body, try a sun salutation, some seated twists, and a hip opener.

    3. Balancing. Balance, along with flexibility, is something that we lose with age. Practice this a little bit every day and you’ll be less likely to lose it. Yoga, again, is another great way to build and maintain balance. There are several yoga poses you could use to increase balance. Try one each day. A simple one you can do is to stand on one leg and grab the foot of the other leg to stretch the hamstring in the front of the thigh. As you build your balance over time try to touch your toes with your other hand while maintaining balance. It is helpful to keep your eyes focused on one point. Do this for 15-60 seconds on each leg.

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    4. Strength Building. You can certainly join a gym and lift weights. But another less expensive option, which is just as good, is simply using the weight of your own body for resistance. The easiest way to do this is to do an hour of yoga a few times per week. A yoga class is great, but to save money, I recommend buying a few different yoga tapes and rotate them. Check out tapes from your local library first to see if you like them before buying, or go to Amazon and check out the reviews to find ones that are highly rated. If you don’t want to do yoga, you can do pilates or try the free online workout regimen prescribed by Dr. Roizen and Dr. Oz of “YOU: The Owner’s Manual.”

    5. Deep Breathing. This is very important and here’s why. Your lymph system relies on the contraction of muscles and breathing to move the fluids of the lymph system around the body. Why is this so important? The lymph system “has three interrelated functions: (1) removal of excess fluids from body tissues, (2) absorption of fatty acids and subsequent transport of fat, as chyle, to the circulatory system and, (3) production of immune cells.” So, how do you get your daily dose? Aerobic exercise, yoga, and/or try The Deep Breathing Exercise 2-3 times per day. Here’s how:

    • Empty your lungs completely by pulling in your stomach while you exhale.
    • Take a deep breath in.
    • Hold for twice as long as it took to breathe it in.
    • Exhale for 4 times as long as it took to breath it in.
    • Do this 10 times.
    • Enjoy the rejuvenation!

    Weekly Exercise Regimen

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    Monday

    • Deep Breathing Exercise (Morning, Afternoon, Evening).
    • 30 minutes Walking at brisk pace.
    • 5-10 minutes stretching.
    • One balance pose.

    Tuesday

    • Deep Breathing Exercise (M,A,E).
    • 45-60 minutes Yoga.

    Wednesday

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    • Deep Breathing Exercise (M,A,E).
    • 30 minutes walking with alternating 3 minute power bursts/3 minute moderate pace.
    • 5-10 minutes stretching.
    • One balance pose.

    Thursday

    • Deep Breathing Exercise (M,A,E).
    • 30-60 minutes Pilates.

    Friday

    • Deep Breathing Exercise (M,A,E).
    • 30 minutes walking.
    • 5-10 minutes stretching.
    • One balance pose.

    Saturday

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    • Deep Breathing Exercise (M,A,E).
    • 30 minutes walking.
    • 20 minutes strength training.
    • 5-10 minutes stretching.
    • One balance pose.

    Sunday

    • Deep Breathing Exercise (M,A,E).
    • 45-60 minutes Yoga.

    Do you have tips for keeping your body healthy? What’s your weekly regimen? Please share in the comments!

    K. Stone is author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. A few of her most popular articles are Ultimate Goal Setting Guide, So You Want to Be a Writer, Should You Start Your Own Work at Home Business?, and Top 10 Yoga Videos + Bonus Pilates Too.

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    K. Stone

    The founder of Life Learning Today, a blog that's dedicated to life improvement tips.

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2019

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. Almost everyone assumes either that taking good notes comes naturally or, that someone else must have already taught about how to take notes. Then, we sit around and complain that our colleagues don’t know how to take notes.

    I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a student or a mid-level professional, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

    One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure.

    Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

    The purpose of note-taking is simple: to help you work better and more quickly. This means your notes don’t have to contain everything, they have to contain the most important things.

    And if you’re focused on capturing everything, you won’t have the spare mental “cycles” to recognize what’s truly important. Which means that later, when you’re studying for a big test or preparing a term paper, you’ll have to wade through all that extra garbage to uncover the few nuggets of important information?

    What to Write Down

    Your focus while taking notes should be two-fold. First, what’s new to you? There’s no point in writing down facts you already know. If you already know the Declaration of Independence was written and signed in 1776, there’s no reason to write that down. Anything you know you know, you can leave out of your notes.

    Second, what’s relevant? What information is most likely to be of use later, whether on a test, in an essay, or in completing a project? Focus on points that directly relate to or illustrate your reading (which means you’ll have to have actually done the reading…). The kinds of information to pay special attention to are:

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    Dates of Events

    Dates allow you to create a chronology, putting things in order according to when they happened, and understand the context of an event.

    For instance, knowing Isaac Newton was born in 1643 allows you to situate his work in relation to that of other physicists who came before and after him, as well as in relation to other trends of the 17th century.

    Names of People

    Being able to associate names with key ideas also helps remember ideas better and, when names come up again, to recognize ties between different ideas whether proposed by the same individuals or by people related in some way.

    Theories or Frameworks

    Any statement of a theory or frameworks should be recorded — they are the main points most of the time.

    Definitions

    Like theories, these are the main points and, unless you are positive you already know the definition of a term, should be written down.

    Keep in mind that many fields use everyday words in ways that are unfamiliar to us.

    Arguments and Debates

    Any list of pros and cons, any critique of a key idea, both sides of any debate or your reading should be recorded.

    This is the stuff that advancement in every discipline emerges from, and will help you understand both how ideas have changed (and why) but also the process of thought and development of the matter of subject.

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    Images

    Whenever an image is used to illustrate a point, a few words are in order to record the experience.

    Obviously it’s overkill to describe every tiny detail, but a short description of a painting or a short statement about what the class, session or meeting did should be enough to remind you and help reconstruct the experience.

    Other Stuff

    Just about anything a professor writes on a board should probably be written down, unless it’s either self-evident or something you already know. Titles of books, movies, TV series, and other media are usually useful, though they may be irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I usually put this sort of stuff in the margin to look up later (it’s often useful for research papers, for example). Pay attention to other’s comments, too — try to capture at least the gist of comments that add to your understanding.

    Your Own Questions

    Make sure to record your own questions about the material as they occur to you. This will help you remember to ask the professor or look something up later, as well as prompt you to think through the gaps in your understanding.

    3 Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

    You don’t have to be super-fancy in your note-taking to be effective, but there are a few techniques that seem to work best for most people.

    1. Outlining

    Whether you use Roman numerals or bullet points, outlining is an effective way to capture the hierarchical relationships between ideas and data. For example, in a history class, you might write the name of an important leader, and under it the key events that he or she was involved in. Under each of them, a short description. And so on.

    Outlining is a great way to take notes from books, because the author has usually organized the material in a fairly effective way, and you can go from start to end of a chapter and simply reproduce that structure in your notes.

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    For lectures, however, outlining has limitations. The relationship between ideas isn’t always hierarchical, and the instructor might jump around a lot. A point later in the lecture might relate better to information earlier in the lecture, leaving you to either flip back and forth to find where the information goes best (and hope there’s still room to write it in), or risk losing the relationship between what the professor just said and what she said before.

    2. Mind-Mapping

    For lectures, a mind-map might be a more appropriate way of keeping track of the relationships between ideas. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of mind-mapping, but it might just fit the bill.

    Here’s the idea:

    In the center of a blank sheet of paper, you write the lecture’s main topic. As new sub-topics are introduced (the kind of thing you’d create a new heading for in an outline), you draw a branch outward from the center and write the sub-topic along the branch. Then each point under that heading gets its own, smaller branch off the main one. When another new sub-topic is mentioned, you draw a new main branch from the center. And so on.

    The thing is, if a point should go under the first heading but you’re on the fourth heading, you can easily just draw it in on the first branch. Likewise, if a point connects to two different ideas, you can connect it to two different branches.

    If you want to neaten things up later, you can re-draw the map or type it up using a program like FreeMind, a free mind-mapping program (some wikis even have plug-ins for FreeMind mind-maps, in case you’re using a wiki to keep track of your notes).

    You can learn more about mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

    3. The Cornell System

    The Cornell System is a simple but powerful system for increasing your recall and the usefulness of your notes.

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    About a quarter of the way from the bottom of a sheet of paper, draw a line across the width of the page. Draw another line from that line to the top, about 2 inches (5 cm) from the right-hand edge of the sheet.

    You’ve divided your page into three sections. In the largest section, you take notes normally — you can outline or mind-map or whatever. After the lecture, write a series of “cues” into the skinny column on the right, questions about the material you’ve just taken notes on. This will help you process the information from the lecture or reading, as well as providing a handy study tool when exams come along: simply cover the main section and try to answer the questions.

    In the bottom section, you write a short, 2-3 line summary in your own words of the material you’ve covered. Again, this helps you process the information by forcing you to use it in a new way; it also provides a useful reference when you’re trying to find something in your notes later.

    You can download instructions and templates from American Digest, though the beauty of the system is you can dash off a template “on the fly”.

    The Bottom Line

    I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of the variety of techniques and strategies people have come up with to take good notes. Some people use highlighters or colored pens; others a baroque system of post-it notes.

    I’ve tried to keep it simple and general, but the bottom line is that your system has to reflect the way you think. The problem is, most haven’t given much thought to the way they think, leaving them scattered and at loose ends — and their notes reflect this.

    More About Note-Taking

    Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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