Exercise Your Way to a Healthier Future

Robert Walker, Program Director at ‘Ekahi
Photo: Woman with running shoes

Wellness Tips Adapted from Ornish Living Magazine

Everyone wants to get healthy, but keeping a regular fitness regime can be tough. When you have family, a professional career, or busy tasks throughout the day, hitting the gym might be the last thing on your mind. Recent research even shows that some of us are predisposed to not enjoy exercise! So, if you haven’t been keeping up with your fitness routine lately, don’t be so hard on yourself. We’ve created some helpful tips to help you ease back into regular physical activity without overworking your body.

Get the right kind of help. It’s important to get over the initial hump, but a Rambo physical trainer or an overly tough class might turn you off to working out entirely. Remember – you don’t need strenuous exercise to reap the rewards of working out. A brisk 30 minute walk each day can have a large impact on your cholesterol levels, as well as your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Act like a kid. Children seem to have limitless energy for a reason – they sleep a lot, and they play a lot. Keep consistent bedtimes and build pleasure and play into your day – you’ll be surprised at how much more energy you’ll have.

Set attainable goals. At ‘Ekahi Ornish Lifestyle Medicine, we recommend three hours of cardio per week. But it is up to you to choose how you spend those hours – and the best way is to choose something that you genuinely enjoy. For some of us that means a competitive sport like basketball, for others it is exercising through yoga or working out with resistance bands. If you choose an exercise where you have fun, you’re much more likely to stick with it and see positive results – even if it isn’t the most intensive workout.

While we’re redefining what it means to exercise, let’s look at some heart-healthy exercises that people typically overlook when thinking about a new fitness routine.

Kayaking. This water sport works your arms and core – no crunches necessary! A day out in the sun also helps produce the Vitamin D needed to keep our bones healthy.

Tai Chi. This ancient Chinese martial art has the potential to improve flexibility, and may even ward off headaches. A recent study showed that Tai Chi wasn’t just a heart-healthy exercise – it also showed that participants who were asked to do regular Tai Chi were also more motivated to do other forms of exercise as well.

Golf. This one might come as a surprise to some – but a Swedish study of over 300,000 golfers found that playing golf cut their death rate by 40% - the equivalent of a five year increase in life expectancy.

The Elliptical. Okay, okay – nobody actually overlooks the elliptical. But we typically spring for the treadmill when the elliptical can be just as beneficial – and it’s less stressful on your knees, hips, and back too.

This year, find the exercise routine that gives you personal enjoyment and satisfaction – it might just be the one you’re most likely to stick with. Happy exercising!

The ‘Ekahi Ornish Program was offered by ‘Ekahi Health—which provides comprehensive community-based care focusing on primary care and prevention and wellness. Learn more about the ‘Ekahi Wellness Program