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 Let’s Move!

Too many people confine their exercise to jumping to conclusions, running up bills, stretching the truth, bending over backward, lying down on the job, sidestepping responsibility and pushing their luck.

          How much would you be willing to pay for something that could do all this?

  • Improve your sex life
  • Help you lose weight
  • Improve your looks
  • Improve your overall mood
  • Treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as medication
  • Reduce stress by lowering production of stress-related chemicals that wear down the body (and which are released every time we get angry, frustrated, or annoyed during the day)
  • Improve your concentration
  • Increase your children’s test scores
  • Reduce symptoms of ADHD
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Lower your chances of getting Type 2 Diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, and even certain types of cancer

          According to Dr. Ronald Petersen, director of the Alzheimer's Research Center at the Mayo Clinic, that something is also, “probably the best means we have of preventing Alzheimer's disease today, better than medications, better than intellectual activity, better than supplements and diet."

          So what is the “something” that can do all that?  

          Ok, ok, ok, if you hate that word, how about this:     

          Oh, and it’s free. And when used wisely, it has no dangerous side effects.  And in case you forgot, it improves your sex life, helps you lose weight, improves your mood, reduces stress, depression (and by the way, anxiety), improves your concentration, is the best means we have today of preventing Alzheimer’s disease, and more . . .

          Hmmm . . . let's see . . . better mood, better sex life, lose weight . . . so why don't I exercise regularly? 

 The Best Exercise in the World

          If exercise can do all those things, what are some of the reasons why you wouldn't exercise regularly?

          You hate it? 
          You can’t find time for it? 
          If you have  time, you don't’t know what exercise to do? 
                    Should I run or walk…should I stretch before I run or walk before I stretch . . .do I need to
join a gym or can I use equipment at home . . . should I get a treadmill, stationary bike,
                    elliptical, or stepping machine . . . should I use bar bells or kettle bells . . . should I learn
                    yoga, Pilates, or Qigong . . . ???   The choices are endless!

          Well . . . let’s see – do you go shopping?  Have you ever walked around a mall?  Do you walk from your home to your car, and from your car to your office?  Well, then you’re exercising.     

          “But,” you say, “what about the recommended guidelines?” (30 minutes of moderate exercise 5x/week, or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise 3x/week.)

          Yes, there are guidelines.  But if you’re one of the 70% of Americans who is not meeting these guidelines, or one of the approximately 50% who is hardly getting any regular exercise at all, let’s make it really simple:

          Here’s one you definitely can do.  It's a prescription for everyone from Dr. Gary Sachs, Psychiatrist and Program Director, Mass General Hospital:

"Go to the door, look at your watch.  Walk 7-1/2 minutes in any direction, then turn around and walk home.  Do that 5 days a week at least." 

          Dr. Sachs calculated that if the average American did this for a year, they would lose five pounds (and if they didn’t exercise at all, they would most likely gain about five pounds).

          That’s 15 minutes a day, multiplied by five days, for a grand total of 75 minutes a week – one hour and fifteen minutes.   

           Do you really not have time for that?

          Well, let’s say you don’t.  Then walk two minutes in one direction, and two minutes back.  

          You say you don’t want to have to do it five times a week?  Then try it three times.  Try it twice, or even once.  Or every week, walk a total four minutes. 

          If you were to just walk four minutes, once a week, for two months, you’d get used to it.  It would start to feel normal.  You might even actually start to enjoy it and decide to add another day… then maybe another, and then . . .   

          If that sounds terribly boring, what about going to a club and dancing?  Or taking a hip hop or salsa class if you don’t feel confident enough to dance in a club?

Before starting any exercise program, please be sure to check with your doctor.

Or just putting on some music and moving around your living room?  Or trying Zumba, kickboxing, hiking, swimming, making love (really, it’s good exercise), playing volleyball, tennis, soccer, kayaking, skiing, surfing (or any sport that involves continuous activity), gardening, horseback riding, throwing a Frisbee, or playing ping pong?

          The fact is, if you’re really motivated (remember that endless list of benefits – more energy, better sex, lose weight, live longer, be happier and healthier…), and you plan carefully, you can make time, and you can find something that you really enjoy doing.

The Basic Framework

Here’s a simple framework for developing healthy exercise habits for life:

Remember to Breathe

Always start here.  Let your mind settle, your heart soften, your body relax, and begin to get a taste of the calm contentment of your core.  Then from there, you can calmly consider what you might like to do in the way of exercise. 

Get Support

Whether that support is other people, an app, a website, a book, or whatever else works for you, let it help you plan and get in touch with your motivation for making long-term, sustainable changes in your exercise habits.

Become Aware of Obstacles

Be sure you plan for dealing with the obstacles – like getting bored, not wanting to take the time, etc. – that are likely to arise when you try to make long-term changes. 

Remember to Breathe

Use the techniques or just remember to keep contacting your core.  It’s your most powerful source of support, motivation, and discipline.