A healthy body helps with a happy life

By Justin Gates

I strongly advise you to consult a physician before you begin any exercise, nutrition, dietary supplement, or replacement program! The material presented is based upon knowledge and personal experience, unless otherwise noted or referenced.  Its presentation is intended for educational purposes only.  Should you decide to engage in or employ any of the suggestions, methods, and techniques presented, you do so at your own risk The material contained in this section is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor replace any prescribed treatment that you are currently undergoing.

Information inspired by “The Body: Exercise, Nutrition & Healthy Living” a lecture from the Order of Ashla Knights

Often, the most challenging part of getting into shape is taking the first step. Here are some simple steps to help you begin.  Keep in mind, to make physical improvements; you need to work your body harder than usual. As your body becomes more conditioned, you need to increase your workouts’ frequency, intensity, or time to continue improving your fitness level.  For beginners, consider starting with 2-3 sessions per week.


Exercise Component 1: Aerobic Exercise.

Aerobic exercise increases the health and function of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. For maximum effectiveness, aerobic exercise needs to be rhythmic, continuous, and involve large muscle groups.  Walking, jogging, cycling, aerobic dance, and stair climbing are examples of activities that use large muscle groups. Activities combining upper and lower body movements such as cross-country skiing, rowing, and swimming can lead to even higher levels of aerobic capacity.

Exercise Component 2: Strength Training.

Strength training is the process of exercising with progressively heavier resistance to build or retain muscle. Unless you perform regular strength exercise, you will lose up to one-half pound of muscle every year of life after age 25. Muscle is a very active tissue with high-energy requirements.  Even when you are asleep, your muscles are responsible for over 25% of your calorie use. An increase in muscle tissue causes a corresponding increase in the number of calories your body will burn, even at rest.

Exercise Component 3: Flexibility.

Flexibility is a critical element of an exercise program and is far too often overlooked. Stretching is essential for several reasons; it increases physical performance, decreases the risk of injury, increases blood supply and nutrients to the joints, increases neuromuscular coordination, reduces soreness, improves balance, decreases the risk of low back pain, and reduces stress in muscles.

The best exercise is an activity that you enjoy enough to pursue. Experiment with different forms of activity. Alternating new activities with old favorites will keep your enthusiasm high. Cross-training will also help avoid injury due to repeatedly doing the same activity.

Here are some suggestions

 Indoor Activities: 

  1. Treadmill
  2. Stair-Master
  3. Rowing Machine or Stationery Cycle
  4. Group Cycling Class
  5. Tennis
  6. Basketball
  7. Yoga
  8. Tai chi
  9. Martial Arts
  10. Indoor Swimming

You do not need to join a gym to get in shape and work out. The internet is full of options (many of them are free on YouTube) that you can access to work out in the privacy of your home. You can also access https://darebee.com/ and find over 1600 different workouts, many of which require no equipment.

Depending on the activity you choose, some equipment may be required. A few inexpensive pieces of equipment include:

  1.  Jump Rope
  2. Doorway Chin-up Bar
  3. Hand Weights
  4. Bench Press
  5. Tension Bands
  6. Step Aerobics Step
  7. Treadmill
  8. Ski or Row machine,
  9. Stationery bicycle
  10. Elliptical Trainer

Outdoor Activities:

  1. Hiking
  2. Cross-country Skiing
  3. Swimming
  4. Jogging
  5. Tennis
  6. Basketball
  7. American Football
  8. Soccer

If you are just beginning an exercise program, start in the low range of the above recommendations. For example, participate in a cardiovascular activity (walking, aerobics, cycling, etc.) for 20 minutes, three times a week, and add strength training exercises to your workout twice a week. Schedule your strength training workouts with 24 – 36 hours rest in between to allow your muscles to recuperate and repair after each workout.

  • To achieve a true cardiovascular benefit, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends exercising 3-5 times per week (frequency) with a training heart rate of 60-85 percent of your maximum (intensity) for 20-60 minutes (time).
  • To attain a true muscular fitness benefit, the ACSM recommends weight training two days per week (frequency), performing one to three sets of 10 repetitions (time) of eight to ten different exercises at approximately 70-85 percent of your one-repetition maximum (intensity.)

Begin Slowly and Gradually Build:

Unfamiliarity with movements and equipment can be frustrating enough that you may consider throwing in the towel. It is normal to feel awkward initially, especially if you have undertaken an activity that is not familiar to you. It will not take long for your skill to improve if you stick with it.

If you attempt “too much, too soon,” it will lead to soreness, fatigue, or injuries. Work at your level; start slow and gradually increase duration and level of difficulty as your body progresses. Getting fit is not going to happen overnight; it is a lifestyle commitment. Do not expect immediate dramatic changes in your body shape or weight loss.  Changes are happening internally; most external benefits will not become visible for the first four to six weeks.  If you stay focused, you will immediately begin to notice an increase in energy, a reduction of stress and anxiety, higher self-esteem, and an increased feeling of well-being.


Only one-third of those who begin an exercise program is still exercising by the end of their first year. Still, with some strategizing and planning, you can beat the dropout odds and make a successful transition to a lifestyle that incorporates exercise. Here are some tips to help you stay motivated:

  1. Find a Fitness Partner
  2. Workout with w Family Member or a Friend
  3. Set goals
  4. Start an Exercise Log or Journal
  5. Schedule Your Workouts
  6. Toss Your Scale
  7. Listen to Music or a Book on Tape
  8. Re-evaluate yourself every couple of months
  9. Make Exercise Non-Negotiable
  10. Use Affirmations and positive self-talk.

When you exercise, are you doing things that could lead to injuries?  Whether you are a veteran or novice, you need to be sure you are getting the best workout possible. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) surveyed 3,000 certified fitness professionals and asked them what mistakes they see people making in the gym; however, you do not have to work out in a gym to make some of these top ten fitness mistakes:

Not stretching enough:

It would be best if you stretched for a few minutes before exercise, concentrating on the muscles used during the fitness activity.  In addition, stretching after a workout for about 8-10 minutes, while your muscles are still warm and pliable, will reap significant benefits. Flexible muscles are far less likely to be injured than tight ones.

Not warming up before aerobic activity:

Stretching is just part of the warm-up equation. Your entire body needs to be warmed up to prepare it for the demands of aerobic training. During a warm-up, your body re-routes blood to your extremities to efficiently deliver oxygen to the working muscles, your heart rate gradually elevates so it can meet your increased need for oxygen, and your muscles gradually prepare to help you hit your peak stride. So, start slowly for the first few minutes. Your workout will be much more effective.

Not cooling down after any workout:

Just as your body needs a warm-up, it also requires a cool-down. Take some time to let your heart rate lower gradually. Stopping aerobic activity abruptly can cause several problems, such as blood pooling in your lower extremities or making you feel light-headed. Now is also a prime time to get in a good stretch that will provide you with lasting flexibility.

Lifting too much weight:

This will guarantee an injury and a painful one at that! Too much weight will contribute to poor form when lifting and damage other areas of the body and the muscle you are targeting. Know your limits.  The most effective workout is gradual progressive resistance training.

Jerking while lifting weights:

Lifting too much weight can contribute to jerking. The best way to strength train a muscle is by using slow, controlled movement. If you are jerking your weights, you are inviting injury, especially to your back muscles.

Exercising too intensely:

If you are looking for effective weight loss, more extended periods of moderately intense workouts are most effective. Short periods of high-intensity training are acceptable when integrated into a circuit training workout or when used for athletic training.  However, for the average fitness enthusiast, too much intensity will only lead to soreness and burnout.

Lack of intensity:

If you are looking for results, you need to put effort into your fitness program. You do not want to overdo it, but you want to get your heart elevated into its target-training zone.

Not enough water:

Contrary to most sports drink advertising, water will fill all your fluid needs. Be sure to drink at least 64 ounces of water per day, which is eight 8-ounce glasses.

Energy bars and sports drinks during moderate workouts:

Most fitness professionals agree that unless you are exercising for more than 2 hours a day, energy bars and sports drinks are unnecessary. Unfortunately, high energy generally means high-calorie when it comes to these products. Sticking to a healthy, well-rounded nutritional plan and drinking plenty of water will meet most of your exercise needs.

Remember to consult your doctor before starting or stopping any regiments relating to diet and exercise. You can make tremendous changes in your life by doing small things that add to more significant accomplishments. Doing simple exercises, drinking plenty of water, keeping yourself well-fed with nutritious food will go a long way in helping you be healthier and happier in all parts of your daily life.

Awaken the Knight Within!

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