We get it! Most of us struggle to make time to really sit down and eat a meal, much less exercise, but we GREATLY underestimate the health promoting power of exercise.
While the science has indicated that 80% of our health is determined by our nutrition, there is still 20% that is determined by our level of physical activity. Exercise and recovery are two very important pieces to your health puzzle.
Ideally, we should aim for 150 min exercise weekly -that’s approximately 22 minutes per day.
Ronald M. Davis, M.D., a former president of the American Medical Association is quoted saying, “If we had a pill that contained all the benefits of exercise, it would be the most widely prescribed drug in the world.” In other words, if we could put all the benefits of exercise into a pill, everyone would want a prescription!
Although most people claim to exercise for the sake of “figure”, medical journals (article) agree that there’s irrefutable evidence of the effectiveness of regular physical activity in the primary AND secondary prevention of several chronic diseases (e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, depression and osteoporosis), neurological responses, and even premature death. The effects of exercise have been clinically proven to increase lean muscle mass, reduce body fat, and improve not only HDL cholesterol, but also self-esteem, mental function, circulating O2 count, quality of sleep, reaction time, and physical flexibility. Exercise has even been studied for its anti-aging benefits! I can’t help but wonder if we really knew that exercise would result in not just a better
physical appearance but better quality of life, would we change the reason we exercise -and if we changed the reason, would we change our ‘style’ of exercise altogether? I mean, would we change our routine into some type of physical activity we actually LIKE to do on a more regular -if not daily- basis rather than participate in something rigorous and forced?
Don’t worry, CrossFit competitions and marathons are not the expectation here. Actually, if you’ve been inactive -or only minimally active- in the last 3 months, it’s imperative that you start slow. Cardiac events are rare during physical activity, but the risk goes up when you suddenly become much more active than your body is accustomed to. Starting off with just 5 minutes a day is much better than staying sedentary. And, whatever activity or exercise you choose to start implementing is entirely up to you -it doesn’t have to be a rigorous and forced activity. Build up slowly in the gym or maybe even walking at a park from 5 up to 30 minutes, 3-5 days a week. Even this slow and easy approach is much more effective than you would imagine. Consider parking farther away from your destination or taking the stars when you a have the opportunity. Push-mowing the lawn or shoveling snow can also be considered exercise. You can use actual weights such as dumbbells or kettlebells, or simply use your own body weight in activities such as jogging, push-ups, crunches or sit-ups, squats, lunges, bear crawl, crab walking, vertical jumps, long jumps, or rebounding, handstands, sumo squats, and planks. Resistance training is very effective, even if it’s just the resistance of your own back side. One of the best things about this type of exercise is that you can get a good workout anywhere. You can also try any number of workout DVDs from aerobics to HIIT to even yoga or Pilates if you don’t particularly like the idea of a gym membership. Stress-reducing and hormonal benefits are both associated with yoga as well as flexibility, balance, and strength or for these effects, you can even try dancing!
The best approach to working out is whatever is the most fun for you. A workout doesn’t always have to be a workout. But don’t forget to stretch before you play with your children or grandchildren (or nieces and nephews) -taking them for a swim, playing tag, throwing the Frisbee or football, shooting some hoops, tossing the baseball, or kicking a soccer ball back and forth -but remember, sitting on the sideline watching doesn’t count for your own physical activity! If you choose a more solitary approach you can even consider practicing your golf swing to be an exercise in movement and flexibility. Making a game of exercise is such a fun idea! One idea is to buy pedometers and try to out-step your spouse or other family participants.
AGAIN, be sure to stretch well before and especially after you exercise since it shortens and contracts muscle fibers. Stretching is very important for expanding the muscles back out, preventing injury and reducing overall pain and soreness. Take a deep breath and relax into a stretch -forcing it can influence muscle or ligament strain or tare.
As you get back into exercise, be sure to increase your level of exertion as your fitness level improves. Staying at the same level for months at a time will eventually create a plateau and even begin to decline your benefits. If you choose to walk, speed up a little, lengthen your stride, and eventually try somewhere new with a few hills. Hit the hills more often and continue to enjoy the benefits! If you feel well enough or spry enough, you can even move up to intermittent jogging. Who knows, maybe someday you’ll sign up for your first 5K!
- Studies in Psychosomatic Medicine say that 50 minutes a week, that’s 10 minutes a day for 5 days with two rest days, has shown to correlate to a 50% drop in depression levels.
- People who participated in moderately intense aerobic exercise such as a brisk walk or cycling -3 -5 days a week- experienced a decline in depressive symptoms by an average of 47% after 12 weeks. The low-intensity groups showed a 30% reduction in symptoms
- Specific blood glucose studies show that walking for 15 minutes after a meal significantly curbed blood sugar levels as soon as the patients started their walk.
- The UK’s Academy of Medical Royal Colleges reported that men who did 30 minutes of physical activity six days a week were likely to have a 40% lower risk of death than their sedentary counterparts -and those who engaged in more vigorous training several times a week lived an additional five years (“Exercise -The miracle Cure” from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Feb 2015
Now, the only question you need to ask yourself is: “How do I want to start getting more active today?”
-this article was submitted by Kyla Brickman