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Don’t forget the other keys to fitness

Total fitness. To an athlete, it means having the stamina to stay in the game. But to the average person, it simply means having the energy to get through the day without getting tired—being able to climb a flight or two of stairs without panting for air, being strong enough to lug a heavy grocery bag to the car, being flexible enough to bend down to pick up a coin.

If your fitness goals resemble those of the average person, they can be easily accomplished. All it takes is a modest commitment (at least 30 minutes a day), moderate effort and attention to the three cornerstones of a total fitness program (remember to check with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program):

  • Aerobic exercise should be the mainstay of your exercise routine. Activities like walking, jogging, cycling and swimming help your heart and lungs work better and build endurance.
  • Weight, or resistance, training is vital for keeping muscles strong. You can try weight lifting (ask a professional for guidance) or practice leg lifts, stomach “crunches,” push-ups, knee bends and other calisthenics that use your own body weight for resistance. To make an at-home routine more challenging, add handheld weights.
  • Stretching exercises. Start slowly, gradually building duration and intensity. Stay committed, and you’ll enjoy increased vitality, better health and less stress well into your later years.