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Ester Marsh column: The choice is yours

Christmas is behind us and New Year’s is right around the corner. I have definitely had some time to reflect. I have two amazing daughters serving in the Army and both are married to remarkable husbands. I have a son who started high school and has embraced it with awesome grades, amazing athletic results and just being a great kid. And, to top that off,  a wonderful supportive husband who is an amazing track and field and cross-country coach and somehow found time to qualify for the 2016 Boston Marathon. I am not one to set New Year’s resolutions — my goal is to live my life to the best of my ability. If I can look myself in the mirror and know that I have tried my best to be a good example not only to my children and friends but this community, I have accomplished my “New Year’s resolution.” As with everything else, it’s not one thing, it’s not one month (or three). If you set New Year’s resolutions, put them as a fresh start, set goals that will last a lifetime and there should not be an end date. Losing weight is probably the No. 1 New Year’s resolution out there. And, in this day and age, many people are overweight. With the extra weight come many health issues, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, joint problems and so on. As I mentioned in last week’s column, health should be your No. 1 priority and the rest will follow. People mention to me that a gym membership is so expensive or they don’t have time to work out. With the economy still very unstable and health care cost in an interesting phase, you can make the choice to live healthier by exercising and eating better. I hear people talk about their monthly co-pay for medicine — hundreds of dollars each month — I also hear people talk about how they were able to cut those medicines because they started exercising and eating healthier.

Exercise has proven to be beneficial to your health. Lots of people can lower, or even cut certain medications when they start exercising regularly and eating sensibly. And with a proper diet and determination, the weight loss will follow. If you are 65 or older, check with your supplemental insurance. Many now offer full benefits for memberships to our YMCA’s, Rufty Holmes Senior Center and other fitness facilities. They have realized that the healthier the individual, the lower their expenses for health care (typically). The YMCA is part of Silver Sneakers but also has been accepted for Silver and Fit. Before you start an exercise program, check with your doctor first if you have health challenges.  I have not found one doctor who does not want you to exercise and eat healthy. For any beginner, no matter what age, start slow and easy and try different things. Try the water exercise classes if you have joint problems. Try chair yoga, body movement class or a low-impact class such as Body Vive. When you try and stay focused, you will find what works for you. You are the one who has to take the initiative.

I am proud and want to encourage everyone who is trying to better their lifestyle. I know it is hard and impossible at times, but you, and only you, can make that choice.

Ester H Marsh, ACSM Cpt and Health & Fitness Director JF Hurley YMCA

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