By DEANNE WEAVER, guest columnist
You’ve just put in a solid hour at the gym heaving weights and panting on the elliptical machine. Your body has gotten the recommended amount of exercise per day, something most people have not done.
That achievement in hand, you may feel you have the right to chill for the rest of the day. You might be thinking, “I’ll park myself on the couch and binge-watch ‘House of Cards’ while downing a few cold beers and munching on pepperoni pizza — extra cheese, hold the guilt.”
Not so fast! Yep, 30 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and strength training is important for your health and helps prevent many chronic diseases.
But you can erase the benefits by what you do the other 23 hours. Here’s how.
Did you know that sitting has been called “the new smoking”? Sitting for prolonged periods is a risk factor for premature death — even for people who exercise.Our body is not meant to be in a stationary position for extended lengths of time. All the systems in our body, from digestion to pulmonary, work better when we’re active.Make sure that you get up at least every 30 minutes to stretch. If you work at a desk, consider using a standing desk.
You’ve heard the axiom many times: “You are what you eat.” The food we put in our body is our fuel. If we want to perform and feel our best, we need to make sure that we are eating properly.Include lots of bright and varied colored fruits and vegetables. The different colors signify different antioxidants, vitamins and minerals available to your body. Antioxidants and other nutrients help prevent everything from cancer to heart disease.Transitioning to a plant-based diet has been shown to lead to a healthier body weight and prevention of many chronic conditions and diseases.
Getting protein at each meal and snack is also critical. Protein is important to maintain and build muscle. As we age, we will lose muscle if we don’t make a habit of both exercising the muscles and properly refueling with protein to aid in rebuilding.
While we’re talking protein, keep in mind the latest recommendation from the World Health Organization: limit red meat and processed meats. These foods have been linked to colon cancer and other deadly diseases.
One more area many of us neglect after we leave the gym is proper hydration. It’s easy to remember to drink when we’re on a spinning bike blasting up a simulated hill. But once we get home, we grab for other things that may not hydrate us.Some of our common choices, such as caffeinated coffee and alcoholic beverages, may actually dehydrate us.Water is the very best thing to drink to hydrate your body properly. Sport drinks may have a place in your diet when you exercise intensely for longer than an hour and need to replace electrolytes. However, for normal workouts of an hour or less and all the rest of the day, water is best.
Finally, give your body the gift of rest and recovery. Adults function best with seven to eight hours of sleep. Make getting the proper amount of sleep a priority.So, remember that the hour you exercise is just the beginning of a day that can lead to a healthier you.Exercise is great; a complete, healthy lifestyle is even better.
And you’ve got 23 hours to get it done.
DeAnne Weaver is an American College of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer and fitness instructor at the Brown County Y. Her other “gym” is Brown County State Park, where she enjoys running, mountain biking and hiking. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.