Ease into a fitness pro­gram

Investment Executive - - BYB - BY DONALEE MOUL­TON

here’s one thing all fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sors know: ex­er­cise is good for both the mind and the body. Un­for­tu­nately, many ad­vi­sors don’t act on that knowl­edge.

One rea­son why you might be re­luc­tant to get up from your desk, says Michelle MacLean, a well­ness coach and nutri­tion con­sul­tant in Hal­i­fax, is time.

“Busy pro­fes­sion­als don’t feel they have enough time to be healthy,” she says, “be­cause it takes away from their pro­duc­tive work hours.”

But this be­lief is er­ro­neous, she says. Find­ing the time to be phys­i­cally ac­tive doesn’t re­quire ma­jor life­style changes. In fact, in­cre­men­tal changes are the most ef­fec­tive.

“In­di­vid­u­als start­ing a pro­gram ul­ti­mately need to build in a habit or pat­tern of mak­ing healthy choices and ac­tiv­ity ev­ery day,” says Charles Cur­tis, pres­i­dent of Cur­tis Per­son­al­ized Health Man­age­ment Ltd. in West Van­cou­ver, B.C. “That can seem over­whelm­ing, but it’s about start­ing with ‘baby steps’ week to week and build­ing on that success.”

There are ways to squeeze in ex­er­cise dur­ing the day, notes Kasan­dra Monid, a well­ness coach and owner of ThinkLife Coach­ing in Toronto. These in­clude get­ting up 30 min­utes ear­lier in the morn­ing a few times a week to ex­er­cise, park­ing your car far­ther away from your des­ti­na­tion and walk­ing the rest of the way, and tak­ing the stairs at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity.

In­vest in a pe­dome­ter to track how many steps you ac­tu­ally walk in a day, says MacLean: “It’s a great mo­ti­va­tor.”

To re­mind your­self to build ex­er­cise into your day, she adds, set a timer to go off ev­ery hour to re­mind your­self to get up from your desk and go for a quick walk about, do some stretch­ing or do a few squats, jump­ing jacks or bi­cep curls.

Pur­su­ing a va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties — danc­ing, swim­ming, cy­cling or hik­ing are ex­am­ples — and vary­ing your rou­tine also helps, Monid says.

Al­though 30 min­utes of ex­er­cise a day is rec­om­mended, there are less time-con­sum­ing op­tions for days when even half an hour is hard to fit into your sched­ule.

Jay Arzadon, owner of Arzadon Fitness in Toronto, rec­om­mends high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing, which in­volves short bursts of heart-pump­ing ex­er­cise with pe­ri­ods of rest in be­tween. “[These] work­outs are quick and ef­fi­cient, and you can get a good work­out in as lit­tle as four min­utes.”

Re­gard­less of the ex­er­cise regime that ap­peals to you, set at­tain­able tar­gets. Be­gin by iden­ti­fy­ing the big­gest bar­ri­ers to your success, then set a goal that’s spe­cific, mea­sur­able, achiev­able, re­al­is­tic and timely (a.k.a. SMART) to over­come those ob­sta­cles and in­fuse reg­u­lar ex­er­cise into your life­style.

“Break the main goal into in- cre­men­tal, suc­cess­ful steps week by week,” Cur­tis says. “Work with these goals un­til they’re mas­tered as a foun­da­tion for mov­ing to the next step or small goal. This builds con­fi­dence and success one step at a time.”

Small changes can re­sult in big gains. Be­gin­ning with a man­age­able ex­er­cise and adding one new el­e­ment into your sched­ule each week helps you change habits without over­turn­ing your life. For ex­am­ple, you can be­gin by tak­ing the stairs three days a week. The fol­low­ing week, you can plan an ac­tiv­ity with the kids or a stroll with your part­ner af­ter din­ner.

And be pre­pared for mis­steps. Set­backs are part of the process, Cur­tis notes: “Ac­cept them, learn from them, be easy on your­self and read­just. Two steps for­ward and one step back al­ways gets you for­ward.”

Seek­ing some help also may be help­ful. Sup­port from fam­ily and friends is crit­i­cal, and hir­ing a per­sonal trainer or health pro­fes­sional can make you more ac­count­able, Arzadon says.

If you’re con­cerned that your work will suf­fer at the ex­pense of a work­out at the gym, breathe easy. Ex­er­cise ac­tu­ally im­proves pro­duc­tiv­ity.

“Ac­cord­ing to neu­ro­science, reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ex­er­cise ben­e­fits both mind and body,” says Monid. “It trig­gers the re­lease of neu­ro­chem­i­cals that lift mood, sharpen fo­cus, im­prove mem­ory, lower stress and help guard the brain from the ef­fects of ag­ing.”

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