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New Year, New Lease On Life: In 2012, Resolve to Focus on Health

6 ways exercise and nutrition betters our lives and 3 aspects of training to add to your 2012 resolutions.

We are a good way into the New Year now and, if you are like most people, good health — both physical and emotional — is at the top of your "improvement" list.

As I mentioned in the last post (and you can actually see for yourself on the government's official website, USA.gov) getting fit, eating healthy food, losing weight, managing stress and quitting smoking, are among top resolutions Americans make each year.

It makes perfect sense. I think most of us realize that good health is the basis of our overall quality of life. This is why it is so important to put it first. Whether you want to prevent the most common diseases or manage the ones you may already have, you should start focusing on these goals right away.

Though this doesn't come as news to anyone, it is worth repeating that the best way to ensure good health and longevity is through regular physical activity and sensible eating habits. (Yes, I know I'm a broken record!)

Here's why:

Physical activity and weight control prevent obesity — a true national epidemic — and, subsequently, a slew of illnesses: heart disease (the leading cause of death in the United States), diabetes, stroke and several kinds of cancer.

By releasing endorphins and elevating the levels of serotonin, exercise improves our mood and reduces stress, anxiety and depression.

Because it increases oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain, encouraging the formation of new brain cells, exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, as well as other mental conditions that impact our cognitive abilities, such as dementia.

Exercise increases muscle mass and strength — essential for optimum health.

Physical fitness strengthens the bones, improves mobility, relieves pains, aches and stiffness of arthritis and keeps joints and tendons more flexible.

Calorie-restricted diets based on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat diary and lean protein will keep your weight under control and be beneficial to health in general.

Now that you know WHY exercise is essential for a healthy body and mind, here is what I recommend you include in your exercise program:

  • Brisk, vigorous activity that raises your heart rate and breathing for an extended period of time. For example, interval training is the quickest way to get fit, burn lots of fat and calories, build cardiovascular endurance and improve strength and agility. And since this form of exercise speeds up your metabolism and fat oxidation longer than traditional steady-state cardio, you will continue to burn calories and fat for hours after you finish your workout.
  • Strength training can include workouts with weights, or use your own body for resistance by doing squats, lunges, push-ups and planks, among other exercises.
  • Flexibility and balance exercises will keep joints supple and relieve stiffness (and will help prevent potentially serious fractures due to falls).

Remember that the federal guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week. So if you focus on achieving these goals, your New Year will be happy and HEALTHY!

Lastly... I got into this profession for two reasons: 1. My passion for fitness, and 2. My desire to help others. As part of that mission, I would love to see our community come together in a mission to make 2012 Brookfield's fittest year EVER! And not just Brookfield... New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Bethel... all of the Greater Danbury area! I hope you will join me in this mission. For your community. For your friends. For your family. For your children. For you.

If you have any questions regarding your workout or nutrition, please feel free to leave them in the comment box below and I will be sure to answer. Or you can go to my website, www.JimCipriani.com, for more tips and information.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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