My name is Pamela Blackwell. I am a member of Second Baptist Church of Elgin and am an active member of the Health Care Ministry. As part of the Healthcare Ministry, I have focused my efforts on encouraging the congregation to be intentional about health and wellness and to make movement/exercise a part of their daily routine.
Everyone’s situation and ability are different, so I don’t want anyone to think that there is one approach to fitness that is good for everyone. What I do know, however, is that movement/exercise is good for everyone. As individuals, we just have to find what works best for us and fit that into our daily routine.
Exercise has numerous benefits, so it is well worth the effort. Here are just a few of the benefits that I have discovered on my fitness journey:
- Weight Control
- Combats health conditions and diseases
- Reduces the risk of heart disease (increases good cholesterol, reduces bad cholesterol, reduces blood pressure)
- Prevents and manages:
- Metabolic syndrome
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Many types of cancer
- Improves cognitive function
- Lowers the risk of death from all causes
- Improves mood
- Boosts energy
- Promotes better sleep
Starting a fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health. I know that it was for me. For anyone that is just starting out, I would encourage you to remember that “slow and steady wins the race”! Design a fitness program that works for you, starting with what you can do now, what you enjoy and building your strength and endurance over time.
Seven years ago, I weighed 280 pounds and could not walk from my front door to the end of the driveway without huffing and puffing. Today, I weigh 163 pounds and can walk, bike or hike long distances with no problem and can even run for several miles.
My initial goal was to lose weight and to strengthen and tone my body. I started off walking daily and doing about 10-15 minutes of prescribed exercises four days a week. My preference was walking out doors, as it put me in a better position to resist the temptation of giving up. If I walked one block, I would be forced to walk two blocks (as I needed to get back home). The more I accomplished, the more I found myself wanting to push myself a little harder to go further. Before I knew it, one block became several blocks. Several blocks became a mile. A mile became several miles. I then went from walking, to jogging and then on to biking and finding other ways to push myself.
As time went on, the exercise that I once forced myself to do became something that I enjoyed and I was able to embrace the inner athlete. Once I was able to embrace my inner athlete, it seemed that a whole new world opened up to me. I lost weight, gained strength and endurance, increased my self-confidence, found peace and started to live a much happier, more balanced life.
There are so many approaches that a person can take to incorporating fitness into their daily and/or weekly routine:
- At home workouts using workout videos on social media platforms…YouTube, Instagram, Facebook
- Hiring personal trainers
- Taking classes as the gym (yoga, aerobics, spinning, Zumba, strength training, Pilates, etc.)
- Joining walking or cycling clubs
- Walking (outside, in your house, up and down stairs, on the treadmills)
- Riding bikes (outside, at your house, in the gym)
- Lifting weights
- Exercising by yourself
- Exercising with friends
Before I started, I looked back to my childhood and thought about the types of activities that I really enjoyed (walking, riding my bike and jumping rope). I worked with a personal trainer to build a fitness program that incorporated those things. I did the workouts prescribed by my trainer, all the while challenging myself to do more. After about four months, my trainer told me that I didn’t need him anymore. He helped me to see and realize my potential and to develop good fitness habits.
I encourage each of you to find the approach that feels right to you and do it.
For those of you that may be suffering from some type of illness, or if you are overweight, be sure to consult your doctor before starting an exercise program. Your doctor should be able to give you some guidance on the types and frequency of exercise that is best for your situation.