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The Inactive Man Peak Points * Re-examine your feelings about physical exertion. Adjust your attitudes.

* Find an activity you like and begin to incorporate it into your daily and week ly routine. * Look to build a more active lifestyle around the activity you enjoy most. * Start slowly, gently, with just a couple minutes of exertion. Progressively wo rk your way up to 10, 15, 20, 30 minutes or more for each exercise session.

Got two minutes? Let''s talk. Mind if we walk while we do this? You ache too much, okay? You stress out easily and run a constant risk of injuri ng yourself. Your health''s not that great you''re more prone to colds and flus an d infections than you should be. You don''t sizzle with energy. You don''t seem lithe and limber. In fact, face it, you''re really pretty physically weak. Most of the time people know better than to ask you to help them move the piano or li ft the fridge. You look like you respect yourself some, but you aren''t in very good shape. Do you mind if we ask why? What''s holding you back? What''s keeping you from seeking your peak potential, your top form, your optimu m health, your natural energy, your sharpest image? Your body, after all, is a machine. If it isn''t worked regularly and kept tuned , it rusts, malfunctions and falls apart. You know this. But thinking about exercise makes you cringe, makes you tired, re calls pain. That''s why we asked if you have two minutes. Because that''s all it takes to start exercising and completely change your outlook and prognosis. No pain, no gain? Hogwash, says Charles Swencionis, Ph.D., head of the health ps ychology program at Yeshiva University in New York City and co-author of The Laz y Person''s Guide to Fitness. If you''re hurting after exercise, then you''ve injured yourself, he says. Injur ies and their resulting pain are one of the greatest reasons people fall off the exe rcise wagon. So, Dr. Swencionis says, it''s important you avoid overdoing it, pa rticularly at first. So your first day exercising, Dr. Swencionis says, allow no more than two minute s of concentrated activity. Then add 30 seconds each day until you''re up to a r espectable 20, 30, 40 or more minutes. But we''re not going to start you off actually exercising on your first day in o ur program. You''re going to like this. Your first assignment is to watch TV. Wa tch lots of it. Watch it in the evenings. Watch it all weekend. See, we want you to do something you''re good at. There is a catch. You can watch all the TV you want as long as you''re watching ESPN or sports and workout activities on other networks or videos.

your lifestyle and your needs. . Do it on paper. examine the list item by item and ask where each idea came from and whether it''s true in your life now or is a holdover from some an cient experience. can help you find useful ways to approach exercise. bellyache about it. Aerobic exercise incre ases your sense of well-being and lessens tendencies toward depression and anxie ty. your pitifully weak excuses . It''s hard to believe al l the new sports around now that weren''t when I was a kid. "Rent and watch videos of the sports that people do in your town. Use your imagination. Clarify your values. rate it fro m one to ten on how important of a value it is. and now you''re in abs olutely terrible physical condition. but life changed and something had to give. he says. Read about it ways to do it. some to live longer an d more vibrantly. Swencionis. look at your history. "Just a loss of 10 to 15 pounds can mean you can decrease or even stop taking drugs for these conditions with your doctor''s approval. That''s a great reason to get moving again. play spor ts and so on. List how you feel about exercise." Exercise can do all those things. . . Swencionis.That''s the beginning of Level One. and about specific forms of exercise. If that''s you. says Dr. because it gets you thinking about exercise. watch sports and games on television these are all things that will get you thinking about exercise. says Dr. he says. This is actu ally a positive process. Rent videos showing active pe ople. fun. firmer you movin . And then." he sa ys. Plus. would you change the stateme nt somehow? If so. As a more experienced person now. Then. there''s mountains to climb. "How come you fell out of the club. the abdomen and sides can heal a bad back or greatly reduce the amount of trouble it gives you. man? Look around y ou. lowers cholesterol and controls diabetes. a popular fitness writer and author of Smart Exer cise." he say s. active friends and talk about their regimens. he says. some to be stronger. he says." sa ys Dr. some to feel more healthy. says he''d ask you. lowers high blood pressure. yeah. only for bodybuilders? List all the positives and negatives you can think of about exercise. and. "Aerobic exercise. some to lose fat. how sore you felt. where you can ref er to them again and again over the next few months. generally. Building muscles in the right places in the back. Swencionis. Is it goo d. That''s right. Imagine the benefits of exercise a slimmer. "Want to die at age 70 in a wheelchair. is up to you. This process. Swencionis. or do you want to be having fun with the rest of us?" The choice. "Different people have different reasons for exercising. Maybe once you loved to exercise. Socialize with fit. benefits of it. Covert Bailey. a good first step. Complain and gripe. and find one you like. "Some do it to look nicer. says Dr." Bailey asks. Level One Program Learn about exercise. Carry on about why you do n''t exercise. Find your reasons for exercising and write them down on paper. bad. about what happened when you did. rewrite it so it is valid now. some to have more energy. roller-blading ." State your reasons. combined with a low-fat die t.

g lithely with flexible. Besides. Make sure it'' s fun because. M ost people. says Dr. when tried. write it down so you don''t forget. those two things are really. If you talk about your exercise program with your friends and fa mily. for example. you''ll make it more a part of your life. what more could you want? When talking h ealth and wellness. People who record their daily exercise tend to stick with the progra m more religiously than those who do not. Keep a log. Here are some proven h elpers. That kind of peer pressure can reall y help. It shows you''re adopting a new image of which you are proud. We''re going to force ourselves to mov e. Once you learn an exercise. Level Two Program We''re actually going to take the plunge. nutritionist and executive co-director of the Michigan Center for Preventive Medicine in Lansing. he say s. Sw encionis.. you see it every day ." he says. Any time you see someone enjoying an activity that looks like it mig ht be fun. Find something fun and do it.D. Ph. So if you find a physical activity that is enjoyable and that you can do socially with other people you enjoy being with. would prefer to save the indoor equipment for days when it' 's raining or has snowed three feet. And you can expect friends to rib you if you fall off the exercise wagon after talking it up. we''re pumping away on a stationary cycle in the basement. says Charles Swencionis. Ph. Swencionis. Robison. says Jonathan Robi son. he says.. Dr. wild animals and the scenery rolling by than when. the ground. an exercise physiologist. second by second." Join a gym you can''t miss. and making it obvious that is. Get outdoors." .D. "Visualization rehearses the motor path ways so the actual movement. Is it on the way to or from work? Is it close enough to the office that you can drop in at lunchtime or walk to it after leaving the office? Making it convenient. Your imagination can do even more. you'' ll discover an amazing physical benefit. he says. We feel better. "Get out and go. inch by inch. want to or not encourages you to make use of it. Robison says. Take notes. pain-free joints. says Dr. really important." says Dr. Then. when you get bored. Just Do It Everybody needs a little motivation to exercise at times. Find friends to exercise with. "Studies show that people who feel connected with oth er people and with groups are healthier than those who do not feel connected. Research suggests that people who exercise togeth er may be more likely to stick with it than are Lone Rangers. if you w ill visualize yourself doing it perfectly. This helps psyche you up. you won''t do it very long. you hav e another activity to explore. if it isn''t fun. head of the health psychology program at Yeshiva University in New York City and co-author of The Lazy Person''s Guide t o Fitness. As Bailey says. when we see the sky. "Studies show that feeling a connection with nature has physiologi cal as well as psychological benefits. Tell everybody. is easier.

" he says. They start by d oing a half-hour or hour even of high. Pick a time.Run. "It''s more beneficial than the perfect exercise that yo u won''t do. and you will build muscle." Go for the gusto. he says. Start slowly." He adds. "Stretching before exercise improves performance. walk. "There must be some kind of physical movement that you enjoy. What do you mean "give it 30 se conds"? Listen to Dr. get stronger. then add 30 seconds a day until you''re up to 20 minutes. but not so fast that you can''t comfortably carry on a conversation. Morning. well. We have to avoid that. get hurt. he says. you''ll be en joying the benefits of an impressive 15-minute conditioning routine before a mon th is up. Swencionis. The idea. They feel sore and give it up. Very slowly. First. is to get moving. crawl. Come on. Give yourself plenty of time to stretch and build new muscle. Very gently. says Dr. Start your exercise program with a two-m inute workout. Swimming? Walking? Shuffleboard? Softball? Roller-skating? Bicycling?" "When you find one you like or several you like. "The proper exercise for starting out is whichever exercise you''ll enjoy and do . I''m all pumped up about this. One minute may seem. Monitor the stories you''re telling yourself about your exercise program and commitment. but to every time you start something new.to moderate-intensity exercise and then i njure themselves. A big mistake many people make is to sta rt enthusiastically and overdo it get exhausted. If you can''t walk. he says. Swencionis. wherever you want to be. midnight. every time you add weight or a new move to your routine. That''s right. If you miss exercise for more than three days a t any point. says Dr. Are you telling yourself you can change? Are you telling yourself that maybe you can change? Ar . or have pain from muscle and joint soreness even if they aren' 't actually injured. he says. That''s real progress. get your heart rate up some by running in place. If you can ''t crawl. minute. you say. And if you add 30 seconds a day. Find your time during Level Two and mentally and physic ally mark it off on your calendar as your exercise time. Swencionis. says Bailey." Once you feel limbered up. increase metabolism. Believe in your ability to change. he says. but it ''s a start. whenever you can work out regular ly. start out slowly. Swencionis. certain times of the day feel better t han others for exercise. Swencionis. Just give it 30 seconds. do some stre tching. Really. says Dr. For some people. a halfhour or hour. subtract 30 seconds for each day missed and start over from there. burn fat." You want it beating faster than normal . You must repeat the routine at least every three days or else you r body begins to lose conditioning. says Dr. All you have to do is add a little effort to y our routine each time." says Dr. Once the heartbeat is up and blood is flowing through your muscles. get great new reasons a nd evidence why exercise is not for them. Start with no more than a couple minutes and then increase by 30 seconds a day. accordi ng to Dr. but not for the burn. says Dr. And starting slowly and gently doesn'' t just apply to the first time you start exercising. If you can''t run. Start gently. Swencionis. roll. Swencionis. evening. "Stretching after exercise decreases the pain and soreness some people experience. exercise for just a few minutes your first d ay. Swencionis: "Most people jump in too fast. noon. You don''t have to hurt yourself to get fit.

" chan ge it to "Maybe I can. Swencionis. if you believe you can. You''re on a roll when you hit Level Three. strength." Because . a time to play. "It''s important for health. director of corporate programs for the Sports T raining Institute in New York City. Set it up in the open where it is convenient and easy to u se maybe in front of the TV. endurance and power." says Jonathan Robison.. Get it out. Don''t hide your exercise equipment in the closet or in a crowded co rner of the basement. I don''t believe that working out on stair-climbers . "that you accumulate about 30 minutes of moderate-intens ity physical activity daily." says exe rcise physiologist John Amberge. If you''re saying. you can. says Dr.D. You''re in control of th is one. Swencionis.e you saying. Seeing it can prompt you to use it. a s tress-buster. * Pre-breakfast bike ride * Post-dinner neighborhood walk * Lunchtime stair-walking (up and down) at work * Morning calisthenics * Living-room stretching routine * Driveway basketball shooting * Solo tennis against garage door or wall * Roller-blading around the block with the kids * Early evening nature walk * Wiffle golf-ball hitting in the backyard Level Three Program As you begin to enjoy the benefits of stretching and aerobic exercise. "I can''t. That''s a good time to turn to the Core Ro utine on page 121 and consider adding resistance training to your program. At Level Three your big challenge is to keep rolling." If you''re saying "maybe. says Dr. It''s a break. Stay vigilant. nutritionist and executive co-director of the Michigan Center for Preventi ve Medicine in Lansing." change it to "I can. Exercise is becoming a habit. Ph. Correct that self-talk. an exercise physiolo gist. It act ually becomes something you look forward to much of the time. "I can''t" or "I probably won''t stick with this"? Whatever you ar e telling yourself short of "I can" needs to be adjusted up at least one notch. you may f ind yourself wanting to build muscle. Ten Fun Activities You Might Try Not sure how to get moving again? Here are some great first activities recommend ed by our experts to put you back on the road to fitness. "Resistance exercise increases stamina.

" Keep that in mind should you find yourself resisting or falling away from a part icular exercise routine. You may be telling yourself t hat you don''t want to exercise. You''ll be surprised that suddenly you find yourself enjoying it. You can walk the dog. you''re not exercising anymore. or go on vacation. That''s okay. We all do fall away at times. . Swencionis. picture yourself exercisi ng and enjoying it. or get injured or pack up and move and. You can''t e njoy the benefits without doing the work. You can do other things and be healthy. You can garden. It''s the total amount of activity in a week that matters. Force yourself. Understand that getting back on is part of the proces s. do it. says Dr. You can park the ca r two blocks away from your appointment and walk. as far as health is concerned. And then.and bikes and treadmills is what most people are going to do. T he key is to realize that. doggone it. suddenly. You m ay not even be thinking about exercising any more. and try to limit the downtime. he says. says Dr. he says. Swencionis. Use every bit of motivation that got you to exercise in the first place and get going again at an easy pace so you don''t injure yourself. But restart gen tly. You can be a world-class exerciser and then get sick. wondering what the big deal was. Everybody falls off the treadmill at times. It all counts. Actively start thinking your way back into exercising. and just because you stopped for a whi le doesn''t mean you must stop forever.