Importance of Regular Exercise
Regular physical activity is good for everyone - young children and senior citizens, men and women. The following are a few of the benefits of physical activity:
- Strengthens your heart - Like other muscles, your heart gets stronger with use. A strong heart reduces your risk for heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, lack of exercise is just as much a risk factor as smoking, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol.
- Builds and firms muscles - You lose muscle as you age. Regular physical activity slows the natural loss of muscle. Maintaining strength in your legs, lower back and stomach area may also help prevent back problems. Another advantage to strong muscles is the ability to burn more calories. The more lean body mass you have, i.e. muscle, the more efficient you are at using energy.
- Slows bone loss - Aging also causes your bones to get weaker. Weak bones are more likely to break. Bone strength is linked to regular physical activity. Bone, like muscle, gets stronger when stresses are applied. Studies have shown that women, especially those post-menopause, have an increase in bone mineral density (stronger bones), when they engage in regular physical activity.
- Reduces the risk of dying young - Regular moderate activities can help you improve your health. Adding exercise to your daily routine reduces your risk of high blood pressure, breast and colon cancer, depression, anxiety and stress.
- Helps manage weight - Every time you move, you burn calories. If you eat more calories than you burn each day, you will gain weight. Exercising regularly helps control the balance. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you engage in aerobic exercise 3-5 days per week for 20-60 minutes and weight train at least 2 days per week. The surgeon general said, however, that even a moderate increase in the daily physical activity of an individual can increase their quality of life.
- Reduces stress - Physical activity can help your body cope with stress. You may also improve your self-esteem, emotional state, energy level, sleep and sense of well-being. Endorphins, the body's "feel good" hormones, are released during long exercise sessions and help to reduce pain
As technology improves, our lives are filled with computers, televisions, elevators, escalators and cars that keep us comfortably in our chairs and off of our feet. Many people have become sedentary as a result – and their health is compromised.
While technological advancement is commendable and inevitable, America is suffering from the ramifications of an inactive lifestyle. Exercise is known to:
- reduce blood pressure,
- reduce body fat,
- reduce insulin needs,
- decrease cholesterol
- Increase good cholesterol (HDL)
- reduce incidence of heart attack and increase the incidence of survival from attacks,
- lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases, coronary artery disease, cancer of the colon, and type II diabetes
- Decrease anxiety and depression
- Enhance feelings of well-being
- Enhance performance of work, recreational, and sport activities
More than ever before, America needs exercise. Only 22% of American adults are involved in regular physical activity. Approximately 54% are somewhat active and 24% of American adults are completely inactive. Even our children have begun to be less active in the last 20 years. As a result American adults and adolescence are facing an epidemic of obesity and heart disease is our number one killer.
*Information gathered from the ACSM Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription
Many of us know and believe that it is important to exercise on a regular basis but we choose not to engage in regular physical activities. What is it that keeps us from choosing a healthy and active lifestyle?
Follow these hints and tricks to keep your metabolism churning through the year.
- Take the stairs - Every little bit helps. Make an effort to avoid elevators, escalators, and moving sidewalks. America is the fattest nation in the world - wonder why? Don't let technology rob you of the exercise your body needs.
- Park at the end of the parking lot -We all waste time driving around and around the grocery store parking lot looking for the closest spot. Why? Park at the end - enjoy the walk to the store knowing that the exercise is good for you AND your car is less likely to get dinged in the parking lot.
- Plan to walk after dinner - Knowing you will be exercising after a meal will make you want to eat smaller portions. When you eat and fill your stomach past full you may be inclined to recline.
- Put exercise where your stress is - If you hate morning traffic consider walking or biking to work. If work is too far away, consider driving half way and biking the rest. You will be surprised how much you will enjoy not being stuck in traffic- just ride/walk on by!
- Put exercise where your weakness is - If the afternoon hour is your weak time for snacking on junk food, it may be the best time to take a walk -or - go to the gym. Mark your calendar. Book yourself - you have an appointment to take a walk. Cravings and munchies can often be distracted - ever been so busy you forgot to eat breakfast or lunch? Make yourself busy during the times you feel weakest to your cravings.
- Use a different bathroom - choose a bathroom a few floors away and make it a point to climb a few flights of stairs every day.
- Drink water all day - if you are drinking enough water you should have 8 successful trips to the bathroom per day. Make sure your water is ice-cold, this will aid in absorption AND you will be more likely to drink it.
- Pack a lunch - and leave your wallet at home. This will not only save money, it will save you calories. You never know what is in your food unless you make it yourself.
- Take half home - eat it later! When you eat at restaurants, take half of your meal home in a doggy bag.
You live in America where portions are out of control. Let's be honest - some plates of pasta served these days could feed a family of five. When you are full take the rest home - there is no waste and you still get your money's worth!
The information on this website is for educational purposes only. Please contact your physician if you are interested in starting an exercise plan.