52 CAN DO’S: Healthy Lifestyle Solutions for each week of the year

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By Monifa Maat “The Healthy Motivator” (www.TheHealthyMotivator.com)

CAN DO TIP Week #20: Keep it Moving!

An old African proverb says “If you watch your pot, your food will not burn”. To drive the point home, Benjamin Franklin said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

When I was learning to drive, just as I was to merge onto the highway with 3 lanes of converging traffic I crashed my truck into a guard rail –hard. Though my pride was seriously injured, I was physically fine and though my car grill was pretty banged up, I was still able to drive it home.  I recall the horrified look on my neighbor’s face when he saw my car and asked if I was ok. Trying to play it off, I told him “oh sure, just a little fender bender!” He didn’t even have to respond because the look on his face told me at that moment, I was delusional.

Imagine though after this traumatic, and might I add, embarrassing event that for whatever reason I decided to repair the body of the car which was visible, but not bother to check under the hood on the  inside to find what was in need of repair. The car might have kept running for a little while but eventually would have difficulty functioning if not corrected.

At the risk of sounding like I’m trying to fill Dr. Phil’s shoes; the point I am making is that persistent, continuous anxiety, unchecked has been directly associated with physical and mental health variables causing problems ranging from muscle tension, joint inflammation and high blood pressure; to low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, etc.

Check yourself when you’re feeling frustrated, stressed or angry, what do you do with your shoulders? Is your back arched or straight? Notice any knots of tension in your neck, stomach or lower back? Are you cutting off circulation in your legs and feet right now by crossing them as you read this article? These are all physical manifestations of daily stress that have actually been associated with chronic physical and mental health issues.

It is reported that 20% of New Yorkers suffer with some form of depression. To put into perspective, 18 Yankee Stadiums could not hold all of the New Yorkers with a lifetime diagnosis of depression (Source: nyc.gov/Thrive NYC).  First Lady of the City of New York, Chirlane McCray issues a challenge that as a society we have to check on each other: acknowledge the presence and prevalence of mental illness, learn how to recognize it, so we can take steps to PREVENT it. And with 73,000 youth in NYC Public high schools reporting they feel sad or hopeless each month the time has come for real solutions to this crisis.

As a fitness professional, my belief is that one of the best approaches for the prevention of mental health issues (stress, anxiety, low-self-esteem, depression, etc.) is EXERCISE!

Next week I’ll share my 7 minute exercise routine for all age groups that will inspire you to keep your head up and keep it moving!

Monifa Maat “The Healthy Motivator” is a certified fitness expert, nutrition activist and creator of Bed Aerobics Fitness Flow®, a faith-based, therapeutic fitness system for chronically ill and mobility challenged individuals. Email: Monifa@TheHealthyMotivator.com.