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Staying Healthy & Fit

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By Bob Difley  –  June, 2010

While the majority of RVers are of retirement age, many others are coming into the lifestyle well before the normal age of retirement, before you had a chance—or a desire—to build up a mini-fortune so you could buy that 40-diesel pusher and stay in $60 a night RV resorts. If so, you have to watch your outgo closely or soon your wallet will have nothing in it but moths.

You probably don’t regret living on a sparse income since your RV provides you with the freedom to go where you please, when you please, and with whom you please. But there are a couple of areas that, if neglected, could have an adverse effect on both your wallet and on your enjoyment of the RV Lifestyle: namely, poor health and lack of fitness. These scourges can cost you money—lots of money—if you get sick from poor nutrition and need to visit expensive doctors or clinics. And poor fitness will deprive you of the full and active enjoyment that is part of the RV Lifestyle.

Take nutrition. It is tempting to buy the cheapest food. But the cheapest food and fast food will not provide a balanced, healthy diet. Instead choose foods with the fewest ingredients and additives on the nutrition label. Choose fresh food over packaged, canned, or frozen, like fruit and vegetables from farmers markets, fish direct from fishermen, pick-your-own berries. The fresher the food, the more vitamins and minerals—the things that keep you healthy—and it tastes better, too. You can keep fruits and vegetables for several days without refrigeration, though they should be eaten when freshest. Choose whole wheat breads and pasta over processed white flour. Cut way back on products loaded with salt and sugar (read the labels—they will amaze you at how much sugar and salt is added to prepared foods).

The next consideration is exercise—and I’m not talking about training for a marathon here. Exercise can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, control diabetes, decrease heart attack risk, help alleviate arthritis symptoms, improve mental health, produce weight loss, increase heart and lung capacity, improve balance, coordination, strength and stamina as well keep the flab off your gut and prevent love handles. With all those benefits, why wouldn’t you exercise?

The body is a fine piece of equipment, designed for movement. Just like a precision machine, our body must be maintained properly to remain functioning at peak levels. And exercise doesn’t have to be difficult or uncomfortable. And it’s free! Consistent, regular exercise and strength training can give you the energy to pursue outdoor activities enthusiastically—as well as prevent falls and broken bones caused by poor flexibility, weak muscles, reduced bone mass, and poor balance.

Our ancestors lived active lives which required a great deal of physical labor just to survive. Our grandfathers got plenty of exercise hunting, farming, and struggling just to stay alive. A hunter-gatherer burned 2900 calories a day just trying to get enough food to sustain himself, while the average American today burns only 1800—but takes in a lot more. The surplus difference in calories consumed by our ordinary daily activities can be seen hanging around our waistlines, clogging our arteries, and putting us at risk for heart attack.

And if you stay healthy and fit, you don’t need to dread the aging process and fear gradual physical decline. I’m 71 and still run three times a week and take no medications or prescriptions. You can do the same once you take charge of your physical conditioning and nutrition.

Walking or jogging is good. A sturdy pair of running shoes is all you need—and shorts and T-shirt—running naked will probably get you a fine. You don’t have to spend a fortune, just be sure they fit well and are comfortable. Throw in some push-ups and squats to strengthen muscles.

Each person has an individual capability; pay attention to how your body feels. If it seems easy, walk faster, walk longer. If you feel fatigued, slow down and give yourself plenty of time to develop strength and stamina.

Good nutrition and adequate exercise are the simple ways to a better life and a more rewarding RV Lifestyle. For more ideas, tips, and free information on nutrition, exercise, boondocking, and the RV Lifestyle, visit my Web site:

Editor’s note: Many of the readers of this site (including me) are on such a tight budget that we just can’t afford health insurance . That makes staying healthy a top priority. It’s easy to read this article and think, “I’ve heard this all before.” Too often we are looking for a magic formula that will miraculously cause us to be fit and healthy. The bad news is that there isn’t one, but the good news is that this article contains everything you need to get on the right path. So let me challenge you to reread it like your life depended on it: because it very well might! Then go to Bob’s website for more detailed tips.

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