Find a Physical Activity That Brings You Joy

Physical activity keeps our hearts fit and pumping oxygen, our muscles strong and our joints healthy. The only way to do this is to move. You don’t have to be a superstar athlete to reap the benefits. Finding a physical activity that brings you joy means taking the “work” out of workout. Here’s a story from our resident fitness coach, Madrina Yoli, that will inspire you to move.

Why We Need to Be Active

I remember when my mom was turning 50 and going through the changes. She came home and told me, “Mija, the doctor said I had to start an exercise program. ¡Ay Dios! I can’t do all you do! I will die!” I was just finishing my degree in exercise physiology and was eager to help her. So I started by explaining to her the reason why we need to be active and how it will help her body. “Mami, you do not need to run a marathon or be a weightlifter to be healthy. You can do things like walk to the store instead of drive. Do some stretching while you watch TV, or maybe we can get you a stationary bike. We could even plant a garden with flowers and vegetables in the backyard and working on it will be part of your exercise.” She said, “I’m ready to start!” I said, “Okay! I will be your exercise comadre—it’s best if you have a training buddy.” We started by writing down her goals for the week in a workout journal. I showed her, “See, here are all of your goals for each day, and here you write down when you complete them in order to keep track of your progress.” I taught her that we needed to start slow in order to let her ligaments and tendons grow stronger to avoid injuries. After that, we started to work on the heart and I reminded her the only way to work out the heart is through aerobic exercise. All you need to do is increase your heart rate. Our ultimate goal was 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, so we started out with three 30-minute sessions per week and picked her favorite exercises: dancing and walking. “Later on, Mami,ˮ I said, “we can get you some resistance bands and begin to work on some strength training, but for now, just remember one important thing.” “What’s that, Mija?” “Have fun!” After 12 weeks, we could see a big difference. Find a physical activity that brings you joy and you will see a difference too.

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