Planning for a healthier lifestyle

The end of summer can feel like a bummer. End of vacation. Back to school. No more summer runs, beach walks, bike rides, golf games.

But wait! Living a healthy lifestyle is a four-season event, the year-round pursuit of activities that give you strength and energy, and burn calories too.

Before summer ends, set your intention for fall. Decide now to make some small, positive changes that - over time - can make a big difference in your overall health and wellness. Get out your September calendar and plan ahead.

Get stronger.

It's never too late to build strength, and the best way to do that is to commit to at least two 30-minute strength-training sessions a week. Join a gym. Hire a trainer. Whatever. If you don't do some form of resistance training, your muscles weaken and your joints dry up. Pumping iron isn't just for jocks. It's for all of us who want to feel alive, vital and energized. What days will you strength train? Write it down - in ink.

Eat real food.

I hope this has been the summer you started to eat more fruits and vegetables and less processed fake food. You are what you eat. Read your labels. If you are ingesting long lists of toxic chemicals and additives, please stop. Write down the date of your kitchen makeover. Pencil in a September session with a nutritionist. Go back to school to learn to eat modest portions of real food.

Deal with stress.

Summer is almost over, but stress never ends. It is part of life. Unchecked, stress can sap your strength and ruin your health. So what's your strategy to deal with the stress in your life? Look at your calendar, and make time to take yoga, learn to meditate, practice deep breathing. Exercise is a great anti-stress strategy. But you knew that, right?

Up on mountain biking? Some tips to get you down safely.

Mountain biking is a challenging way to get up a hill - and an exciting way to come down. But along with the thrill of it comes the chill of it. Make no mistake: Riding a mountain bike down a steep decline requires courage, balance, skill and a really good helmet. Here are some biking tips to help you gain confidence and avoid injuries. They originated with competitive mountain biker Linda DuPriest, and I have embellished. Many apply to road biking as well.

  • Pay close attention to body position. Most of the time, you want to ride with your weight evenly distributed between the front and back tires. A common mistake is riding with your weight too far forward. Don't do that.
  • It's best to bounce down a mountain trail standing up (not sitting down). Engage your thigh muscles so you can squeeze the saddle between your legs. Too much tension can exhaust you, so when you get to less challenging terrain, allow your muscles to release and relax.
  • Expect to fine-tune your weight balance all the way down. When you get to extremely steep downhill sections, shift your weight to the rear of the bike, so your butt is behind the saddle, over the rear wheel.
  • Don't focus exclusively on what's directly in front of you. Occasionally shift your gaze down the trail 20 to 40 feet ahead. If you see trouble, you'll have time to react. - When you're not pedaling, assume the ready-for-action position: Ride with both pedals at the same level, parallel to the ground.
  • Learn to use your brakes properly. Always brake front and back tires simultaneously. If you use the front brake only, you can end up flying over the handlebars. Jamming on the back brake can force a bad sideways spill.
  • Anticipate turns. Do most of your braking before you get to the turn, then coast or pedal through. On high-speed wide turns, lean in, keeping your shoulder parallel to the handlebars. Take tight switchback turns slowly. Shift your weight back behind the seat, brake slightly, and steer the front wheel around the turn.
  • Navigating over rocks, logs and other trail obstacles requires instruction and practice. Don't ride beyond your skills. Fear, anxiety and inexperience take all the fun out of mountain biking.

Marilynn Preston is a fitness expert,

personal trainer and speaker on healthy lifestyle issues. She welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to MyEnergyExpress@aol.com.

   
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