Even the least fit among us usually are able to incorporate some walking into our schedules. An organized walking routine can be a great form of aerobic exercise. It’s free, and strengthens the heart and lungs as well as the legs. It also helps to prevent osteoporosis, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, helps with diabetes, and increases flexibility.
Walking for 30 minutes most days can be an easily achievable target, perhaps walking all or part of the way to work, or a 15 minute burst at lunchtime and another in the evening. As your fitness improves, you could even try alternating with a slow jog.
Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a choice that will become automatic after a short time.
Yoga reduces stress and improves strength, flexibility, coordination, circulation and posture. It may even reduce the frequency of asthma attacks.
Yoga is an ancient Indian practice, dating back more than 5000 years. The word yoga means union, and was originally designed to lead to union of the human spirit with nature. However, today many people use it as a technique to link the body and mind in a way that encourages peacefulness and relaxation. It uses stretching postures, breathing, and meditation techniques to calm the mind and tone the body.
There are different types of yoga, but almost of those used in the West are forms of Hatha Yoga. This is a combination of asanas (physical exercises and postures), pranayamas (breathing techniques) and meditation.
You can learn about yoga from books and videos, but the best way is through attending a class with an experienced instructor.
Also known as tai chi ch’uan, this form of martial art will help to reduce stress and improve strength and flexibility.
Based in the Chinese Taoist philosophy, it was developed for health, self-defense, and spiritual development. It combines a series of gentle physical movements and breathing techniques, allowing you to experience a meditative state. The idea is that it facilitates the flow of chi (“life energy”) through the body by dissolving blockages both within the body and between the body and the environment. Through concentration, coordinated breathing and slow, graceful body movements, it aims to increase well-being.
It has recently been found that Tai Chi has physiological and psychosocial benefits and promotes balance control, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness in patients with chronic health conditions.
Tai chi is now practiced all over the world and, as with yoga, it’s best to learn from a qualified teacher.
Wang C., Collet J. P. and Lau J. The effect of Tai Chi on health outcomes in patients with chronic conditions: a systematic review. Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 164, March 8, 2004, pp. 493-501.