exercise101I’m not a curmudgeonly Luddite. Far from  it. However, after reading an article in the New York Times a while back — “A Monitor of Health, Worn Lightly” — by technology writer David Pogue, I was mentally exhausted and ready to dump both my iPhone and UP by Jawbone in the garbage.

Instead, I got down on the floor and did 20 push-ups.

Pogue started the article with this newsflash:

“Maybe you’ve heard. We Americans are not, ahem, the very models of physical fitness. We’re overweight, underexercised and underslept. We don’t need more studies to remind us that being so fat, lazy and tired is bad for our mood, productivity and health. What we need is to change our ways.”

He’s right, of course, but Pogue should have included this bit of information, as well: Being physically unfit, which often leads to poor health, is the No. 1 biggest financial risk as we age.

There are myriad reasons why moving our bodies every day should be as integrated into our lives as brushing our teeth:

    • Better general health
    • Weight management
    • Deters many diseases, including some cancers
    • Sounder sleep
    • Improved health numbers (cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.)

But, there are even more reasons and excuses we give ourselves — and the world — why we can’t and don’t: no time, have to work late, too cold, too rainy, and on and on.

One of the big reasons why people often stop exercising is they don’t see results quickly enough, and they give up before they’ve barely started. It’s a Catch-22 that has not gone unnoticed by marketers of gyms, equipment or gadgets (not to mention authors of diet books). Instead of promoting old-fashioned discipline and the fitness basics that truly work (walking, running, push-ups, sit-ups, and so on), they’re eager to offer up their latest technological wonders — such as those reviewed by Pogue in the article — as the new “magic bullets” to improved fitness and health.

These gadgets claim to measure physical activity and fitness improvements, but there’s a much simpler, cheaper and sustainable approach to consider:

Low-tech, High-impact Fitness:

  • Walk 10,000 steps every day — That’s how many steps we should take every single day, and each step you take is one step closer to better health. Build up to it if you need to, and try adding some gentle running into your walking program. Go at your pace, but keep going.
  • Get a pedometer — If you feel the need to monitor your activities, especially in the beginning, get a simple, inexpensive pedometer, which is all you need to count every step. Don’t be coerced into buying one that offers other information. All you need to know is how many steps you’ve walked or run. If you have an iPhone, there’s an “app” for a pedometer.
  • Find reasons to walk every day — Walk to work, park your car farther away, take the stairs. You know how to do this.
  • Tell everyone you know that you’re starting a fitness program — Go towww.stickk.com, where you can make a public proclamation about your intentions. The more people you tell, the more you will be motivated to start — and stick to — your program.

If you’re just starting an exercise program, consider taking a quick peek at this short video–Running After 50–which is a recent episode of The Best of Everything web series for AARP YouTube Channel. Tip: Before you start any new exercise program, get the green light from your doctor.

I want to hear from you! Let me know what you want to see on future segments of THE BEST OF EVERYTHING WITH BARBARA HANNAH GRUFFERMAN video show on AARP’s YouTube Channel. For more tips on living your best life after 50 (or 60, or 70), check out www.bestofeverythingafter50.com. Keep me posted on how you’re doing by subscribing to me on Facebook or sending me a tweet @BGrufferman.

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