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Sun, Feb. 23

Essential fluids and easy ways to add exercise

No matter what kind of physical activity you choose to participate in, fluids are essential for your safety and performance.

During exercise, you may not even feel thirsty. Furthermore, thirst is a sign of dehydration, so you really should be drinking water to prevent thirst.

When you are physically active, you lose water through sweat. Small losses of 2 to 3 percent of body weight can hinder your endurance, strength and aerobic capacity. You need enough fluids for energy production, protection for your organs, and to help regulate your body temperature (to avoid overheating).

Try to consume at least 2 cups of water prior to your activity, and at least ½ cup of water every 15 minutes during your activity.

As for your exercise, increasing your physical activity will help you burn calories and keep your metabolism up. To maximize your efforts, first, incorporate cardiovascular exercise into your routine at least three times a week. Try to make your sessions last at least 30 minutes, because it can take up to 20 minutes before your body starts burning fat (versus carbohydrate) for energy.

If you can't fit in a 30-minute session, the next best goal would be to aim for at least three 10-minute sessions throughout the day.

Second is to incorporate weight-bearing exercises (hand weights, squats, lunges, etc.). Maintaining and building muscle will help you burn more calories, even at rest. A good goal would be to include two 30-minute, weight-bearing exercise sessions a week.

Other simple steps to take include standing instead of sitting whenever possible.

Many people have established daily routines in which fitting in exercise does not seem possible. In a busy lifestyle, convenience is key. Before you even try to establish a routine, you should avoid making excuses to find time for exercise. This will help you become determined and motivated to find a way to fit convenient exercises into your day.

What can be more convenient than having access to exercise equipment at home? Using expensive, fancy equipment is not necessary. Dumbbells, stretch bands, medicine balls and exercise videos are inexpensive items to invest in. A staircase or wall can be used for exercise routines as well. You can walk up and down a staircase, or lean against a wall for resistance exercises.

Maybe blocking out 30 minutes of your day throws off your schedule too much. So try looking for 10 to 20 minute pockets of time. For example, when you are waiting on dinner or for a load of laundry to finish, you can complete a few repetitions with hand-weights. In shorter periods of time between errands, try to squeeze in push-ups or sit-ups.

You can also incorporate exercise during other activities. You can exercise as you watch television, or spend time with children doing physical activities (bicycling, hiking, playing ball).

Finding the time for exercise is possible. There are many ways to make exercise convenient so that it doesn't disrupt your day and it's easy to stick to.

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