Just Move It!

I’ll be the first to admit that I have never been one to want to get my exercise in a gym. Give me a beach, a mountain, being in nature (and preferably tropical nature) is what I prefer. The noise, the smell, and the sweat of the gym scene just never appealed to me. Plus the fact that I would have to be confined indoors with artificial lights and air-con. However, faced with spending a few months in the cold winters of upstate New York and Canada for part of this past winter, I was inspired by a friend who told me that the only way she survived winters without putting on extra weight was by going to the gym. Not being a winter sports fan either, I figured that this would be the only that I was going to be able to manage the frigid temperatures. So with gym bag in tow, and a slightly heavy heart, I went to a local gym for my first workout.

My friend had recommended the elliptical machine for a good aerobic workout, so I found one and hopped on. Within minutes I was sweating buckets and felt like I was back in Thailand! The faster I went, the more I sweated, my heart rate went up and I felt great. I wasn’t able to manage more than 20 minutes the first time I went on the machine, but I felt great when I left. I was a convert. I started going 3-4 times per week and felt the benefits almost immediately. By the 5th or 6th time I had doubled the amount of time I could work out and I felt more and more energy all the time. I was building muscle, toning my legs, and burning off those high-carb foods that I crave in cold weather.

The benefits of exercise are enormous. Studies have shown that people who exercise even just one hour per week raise their good cholesterol levels and have less heart problems. Women who exercise moderately have a lower risk of breast cancer and the endorphins that are released during exercise can boost your mood like nothing else. Exercise also helps blood circulation, elimination of toxins, stress reduction and digestion. It builds muscle and more muscle boosts metabolism, thus burning up more calories and keeping those awful winter pounds at bay.

It’s important to plan when you are going to start any type of workout routine. Don’t leave it up to chance. Schedule time into your day at last 3-4 times per week for some type of exercise, even it it’s only 20 or 30 minutes. I find the best time to get moving is in the morning, so try getting up a bit earlier once in a while and go to the gym before work, or even just speed walk around your block a few times before breakfast. You’ll feel great all day. If you don’t have time for the gym before work, you can always take the stairs instead of the elevator and if you have a bit of extra time at lunch, try going for a quick walk before you eat.

I’m happy to say that I’ve left the winter behind and I’m back to my regular exercise routine of beach walks, swimming and bike rides in Goa, but I can truly say that I feel fitter than ever, and I know that I have the lovely elliptical machine to thank for at least part of it. And of course my wonderful friend who inspired me to get myself to the gym in the first place!!!

Go on, give it a go! You’ve got nothing to lose but a few pounds!

Rebecca Andrist