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A Simple Path to Fitness

Life coaching: The small things can help a lot

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Robert Maurer is a Spokane psychologist, consultant and author of “One Small Step Can Change Your Life.”
  • Robert Maurer is a Spokane psychologist, consultant and author of “One Small Step Can Change Your Life.”

On the one hand, fitness is quite simple: eat nutritious food and exercise regularly, On the other hand, taking care of our health takes more time and energy than many of us have to spare. As Mark Twain wrote, "The only way to keep your health, is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not." But there is good news: A growing body of research reveals some surprising insights.

Small — very small — amounts of exercise have powerful effects on the body. A study of more than 400,000 adults found that exercising for 15 minutes a day led to three more years of life. Losing one pound a year for four years, and keeping the four pounds off, reduced the risk of high blood pressure by 25 percent. The Mayo Clinic found that lean, fit people moved more during the day: pacing, parking farther away from the store, standing rather than sitting. As a result, they burned about 350 calories more each day. Standing from a sitting position doubles our metabolic rate; a short walk doubles the burn rate again.

So in our 70mm Dolby, supersized, extreme makeover culture, it's hard to believe that small amounts of movement can lead to big results. Of course, more is better, but small efforts throughout the day build habits and help us to rediscover the pleasure of moving our bodies. Remember our favorite part of school growing up? Recess!

We can rediscover that joy, a few minutes at a time.

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