Caveat: If you plan to undertake any significant changes in your lifestyle, you should seek the advice of a properly qualified health professional. The information provided here is a perception of current mainstream health and fitness thinking by a fellow RV enthusiast with no special qualification in health or fitness. You should add your own research to make sure you understand reasons or consequences of anything suggested here before changing what you are currently doing.
The current concerns about diabetes, obesity, and hypertension may just be an excuse for fanatics to worry us about health and fitness but it does seem that a bit of explicit attention to fitness may be warranted for many of us. The typical RV'er has suffered a bit of 'middle aged spread' and tends towards a rather relaxed lifestyle. A little bit of attention to diet and exercise in daily habit may well provide returns in general feelings of well-being and ability to enjoy what we are out on the road to enjoy.
Monitor your health. Keep track of trends in weight. If you use a scale, you will get a bit better feedback than if you use belt notches or clothes sizes. If you are at risk for hypertension, keep a log of your blood pressure. If diabetic, keep a log of blood sugar.
The key ideas in exercise seem to be: if you don't use it you will loose it; mo' betta' mo' betta'; and don't overdo it. As we get older, it seems that it gets more difficult to do things. But even just a little bit of planned exercise will yield benefits. You do not need to put a lot of effort into it. You do not need to purchase any expensive equipment.
Here are five basic exercises you can use to limber up and keep joints and muscles moving. The are based on a sixties Royal Canadian Air Force program, do not require anything more than a bit of floor space, and can be adjusted to your particular capabilities. You can set up a specific program (see Walker, below) or you can just allocate two or three minutes per exercise. Each has a basic version and a more advanced version. Do what you can but don't push yourself. This set of exercises is intended to provide a good all around stretch, move, and stress level for general fitness. Two or three minutes per exercise will provide a ten to fifteen minute regimen that you should make a daily habit.
Start with the basic version of each exercise. If you find three minutes at an exercise an easy drill with no strain and no huffing and puffing, and this doesn't change for a week, then trying doing the more advanced version. For variety, change the order in which you go through the exercises.
Forget that "no pain, no gain" stuff your PE coach may have tried to get you to believe. For basic fitness purposes, you want a minimum of ten minutes or so of activity that will be a pleasant, no strain, no pain, no huffing, and no puffing, activity. Just enough to get you going and feel like you put something into it.
The Bend exercise might be a bit limited in your RV due to low ceilings. If you can't reach high, then reach back and move your fingers across the ceiling instead. The run and jump exercise may also be a problem as it also needs good head room and arthritis may limit things. If so, you can use knee lifts or substitute a good walk. Keep in mind that, for some folks, just getting down flat on the floor and back to a standing position a few times is a good exercise.
See http://www.flwd.com/5bx/charts/chart1/index.html for illustrations and more extensive information on the 5BX plan.
Bend - Stand upright with your legs apart, hands outstretched above your head. Bend forward, as far as you can, trying to touch your toes (it's OK if you can't reach your toes). Then straighten up and bend backward moderately. Advanced: touch the floor between your legs, bounce up a few inches, and touch the floor again. Then straighten up and bend backward.
Sit up - Lie on your back on the floor, feet slightly apart, hands at your side. Lift your head and shoulders off the floor far enough so that you can see your heels. Smoothly lower your head and shoulders back to the floor. Advanced: Lift your upper body, bending at the waist, until you're sitting up vertically. Keep your arms at your sides and your feet on the floor--avoid the temptation to ``cheat'' by pulling yourself up with your arms or levering yourself up by raising your legs. Smoothly lower your body back to the floor.
Leg lift - Lie face down on the floor, legs slightly apart, with the palms of your hands under your thighs. Lift your left leg, bending at the hip and knee, while simultaneously lifting your head from the floor. Smoothly lower both your head and leg. Then lift your right leg and head in the same manner. Advanced: Lift both legs at once, bending at the hip but not the knee, at least high enough that your thighs are lifted from your hands. Simultaneously lift your head and shoulders from the floor. Smoothly lower your head, shoulders, and both legs.
Push up - Lie face down on the floor with palms just outside your shoulders and arms bent. Keeping your knees on the floor and allowing your legs to bend at the knee but holding your upper body straight, lift your body until your arms are straight. Then smoothly lower your body back to the floor. Advanced: Lie face down on the floor with palms just outside your shoulders and arms bent. Keeping your back straight, pivoting on your toes, lift your body until your arms are straight. Then smoothly lower your body back to the floor, touching your chest.
Run and jump - Run in place at a brisk pace for the specified number of steps, lifting your legs 4 to 6 inches from the floor with each step. Every 75 steps, stop and do 7 introductory ``jumping jacks'': stand with your legs together, arms at your side. Jump up in the air, extending your legs to the side and your arms outward to the level of your shoulders. Then jump up again, bringing your legs back together and your arms back to your side. Be sure to count a running step only as your left foot touches the floor, not every time either foot touches. Advanced: do 10 ``jumping jacks' for every 75 steps ideally touching your fingers together above your head, but at least above your shoulders.
A step up from the basic exercise is a fifteen or twenty minute bout of activity that gets your heart going just a bit but doesn't cause you to get out of breath. For most of us, a good stiff walk provides this kind of exercise.
John Walker: The Hacker's Diet, explains a feedback model and its implementation to improve health and fitness.
NetSweat.com . a resource directory for health and fitness. See the section on the fitness plan.
About how to exercise
lifeclinic physical fitness and exercise center . tips and hints -
Check the ideas of Covert Baily . the ultimate fit or fat (review) -
FAQ for misc.fitness -
Overeating and Overweight:Truth and Consequences and How to Gain Control By Robert M. Giambrone MD -
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