According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sitting or lying for extended periods of time is a serious health risk. Inactivity leads to a decline in bone and muscle strength, heart and lung fitness, and flexibility. Inactivity is as harmful to your health as smoking. To live a healthy life through to your future golden years you need to keep your body moving. Our bodies were designed to move.
Exercise will help you maintain your physical and mental health, and quality of life. You will feel more relaxed, have more energy during the day, and sleep better at night. You will also have fewer aches and pains and better posture as a result of exercise. Research tells us that being active will reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, falls and injuries, and even premature death.
Now that you know you should exercise, what’s the dilemma? Should you join a gym or workout from home?
What a gym membership can offer you:
The latest commercial grade cardio and strength training equipment
Large selection of free weights (dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells)
Fitness classes geared to mature adults, and small group training sessions
Opportunities to meet people
Change rooms with lockers and showers
Before joining a gym visit several of them and experience the ambience each provides. Every gym has a different vibe or feel. Ensure you visit at the time you would like to exercise and take note of whether it is busy, if it has the equipment that you would like to use, if it’s clean to your standards, if it has music that appeals to your preference, and how friendly the gym associates are. This will give you a good indication of what it will be like when you actually join.
When you have narrowed down your choices, ask the manager for a trial membership. Most gyms will offer this option, or an alternate extended trial for a small fee. Consider there are a number of factors when looking at gym membership structures:
You will need to sign a contract. Find out if there is an initiation or enrolment fee, and how much it is. You will want to pay close attention to the fine print just as you would with any contract.
Find out what your cancellation options are, or if there is a fee to get out of the contract, should you change your mind or find an alternate exercise option that suits you best. Some gyms require a written letter to cancel your membership, and 30 days notice.
Determine what is included in the membership fee and which services are extra – although some gyms may offer assessments, swimming, personal training and nutrition consultations, they will often charge this additionally and as required.
Find out your options for payment of your monthly fees. Is it charged to your credit card or can they withdraw the fee directly from your bank account?
Many people find they do not use their membership during spring or summer months, or while they’re away on extended holidays. Find out if the gym has “hold” or “pause” services, should you not have the need for attending during these times.
Ensure you gather all your facts before you sign on the dotted line! Never rush into any agreement, and preferably take the contract home to review at your own pace.
If a gym membership is not of interest to you let’s look at doing your own workout at home. There are many benefits to working out at home:
No gym membership – save money
You do not have to leave home
Workout when you want, or are able to – not constrained by fitness schedules or gym hours
Workout on your own or with a friend
Large gyms can be confusing and intimidating especially if you’re unsure of which exercises would benefit you best.
For a minimal investment there are many options for exercising at home or elsewhere:
Purchase an exercise DVD that interests you and play it on your own time. Try to stick to a schedule so it becomes part of your daily/weekly event. If you don’t like to exercise alone phone a friend or two and invite them to do the workout with you.
Go for a walk with a friend or take the dog for a walk. If the weather is nasty outside you can go to the mall and walk there. You could even join a mall-walking club such as is provided at Mapleview Mall and Oakville Place – it’s a great way to meet people and get your exercise. Remember to walk with a purpose and pump your arms to get the most benefit!
Purchase an exercise book and follow the exercises. Most exercise books provide sample programs.
Purchase minimal equipment to keep the costs down. Exercise equipment that is handy for a home workout is a stability ball, resistance tubing and a body bar. This equipment takes up very little space and there are countless exercises that you can do with them.
Watch you-tube videos to show you how to do certain exercises safely.
Safety first! Since you may be alone during exercise, don’t forget to look up safety tips such as exercising and intake of water requirements, how to take your pulse and which shoes are best to wear. If unsure, consult with any personal trainer, rather than just visiting a shoe store – the proper footwear will depend upon which exercise you’re doing and how much support you need for it, and can also prevent painful injuries such as shin-splints.
The bottom-line, is exercise can be done anywhere you just need to find what will work for you! Personal trainers can help guide you along your exercise journey and help you achieve your best results. They can be found at most gyms, or are mobile and will come to your home. They will work with you to develop a program to meet goals designed specifically for you and for the desired results.
Before starting any exercise program please consult with your Physician and start slowly. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you begin to feel more energetic, stronger and more flexible.
Life is too short not to do something that you enjoy, so get off the couch and do something you love! Embrace all that the world has to offer with your new found energy!
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Lynne and Carole Flory are twin sisters and founders of Twin-Fit Personal Trainers Inc., located in Burlington. They may be reached at 905-808-5037 or online at www.twinfit-fitness.com