Lunden Souza: A little activity goes a long way

March 17, 2012 

Lunden Souza

"Get caught in the race of this crazy life. Trying to be everything can make you lose your mind."

I went on a trail run this morning and replayed "American Honey" by Lady Antebellum over and over on my iPod. I love listening to country music while working out. These lines, though seemingly cliché, really caught my attention. I feel that now is crunch time until summer, and some people can get so anxious and overly caught up in how they are going to reach their goals by summer, which is fast approaching. This is not a time to get anxious; it's time to continue taking those baby steps toward a more clean and healthy lifestyle.

The beautiful thing about leading a healthy lifestyle is that it isn't a competition, a race, contest or a rivalry. It's a journey to a better you. Health and physical activity should be your lifelong companions. You'll always win if you're seeing improvement. Trying to implement every single health tip at once can be overwhelming and cause mental chaos.

In fact, it deters you from implementing even the smallest improvement.

Don't go into this lifestyle thinking it is going to be easy, and don't go into it comparing yourself to others, because every person is different.

Not everyone has to or can have a Victoria's Secret or GQ model body. That's unrealistic for the average person.

What I can't tolerate is when people do absolutely nothing to improve their quality of life. Some even practice habits that work against their body.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, regular physical activity does the following:

Improves your chances of living longer and living healthier.

Helps protect you from developing heart disease and stroke or its precursors, high blood pressure and undesirable blood lipid patterns.

Helps protect you from developing certain cancers, including colon and breast cancer, and possibly lung and endometrial (uterine lining) cancer.

Helps prevent type 2 diabetes.

Helps prevent osteoporosis, reduces the risk of falling and improves cognitive function among older adults.

Prevents weight gain and helps decrease weight when accompanied with a calorie-sound diet.

Improves heart, lung and muscle fitness and improves sleep.

I know someone with at least one of these problems. Why not start with some daily physical activity so that you and your doctor can work together in the proper direction to get you healthy?

I also read in that same article that cutting out time sitting in front of the TV, computer or at a desk is just as important as increasing your physical activity. This is probably due to the fact that if someone is accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle in the office on a day-to-day basis, he or she is more likely to come home and sit in front of the TV to unwind after work.

So for those of you who work in a seated position on a daily basis, it's just as important for you to take your physical activity to the next level and make sure you are working out on a regular basis. I know that life can get extremely busy and chaotic, but how are you supposed to handle life's challenges if you can't even schedule time for yourself to get healthy?

Don't try to be someone you aren't. Don't try to achieve a body that's genetically impossible, beat yourself up if you have an off week, or try to conquer all in a single day. Take small steps toward improving your quality of life and encourage those around you to do so also.

The worst thing you can do is nothing.

Lunden Souza can be reached at lunden.souza@gmail.com.

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