If you are like me and many others... you are concerned about your health.
Maybe you're just getting started with exercise. Way to go. Or you go to the gym, the park, or you are working out at home a few days per week. Great. You’ve bought workout clothes, sneakers, a Fitbit or smart watch. You’re all set.
But lately you've been seeing and reading alot of information about the importance of exercise. Like... how often and the type of exercise. Which exercises are popular now? What's the right balance for optimal health? Is exercise overrated?
There are so many opinions and options. You need answers now!
Your Body Is Designed To Work…
Society’s progress now relies mostly on our brains. Our natural affinity to exercise when working has declined dramatically in the past 100 years. We have built transportation machines to promote ease of travel. Many people spend their days hunched over a computer, sitting at a desk taking calls or in meetings most of the day.
Do you find yourself lamenting the good old days when life was less complicated? You ran around outdoors with your friends engaging all sorts of activities. Mowing the lawn, playing sports in school, playing tag, biking and walking or riding your bike everywhere.
What Are The Health Benefits of Exercise?
People exercise for several reasons including health, recreation, appearance, work, to feel good, competition and enjoyment. Medline Plus and WebMD list 10 benefits from exercising. They include:
Weight management ~ bone and muscle health ~ relief from physical pain ~ boosts brain power ~ melts away stress ~ reduces chance of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and osteoporosis (over 10 chronic diseases) ~boosts mental health ~ improves balance and mobility ~ improved quality of sleep and improved quality of life.
Get some FREE guidance from an expert: (Patty, RN is a wellness educator & consultant)
What Does The Research Say About Exercise?
Research highly recommends that adults maintain their health by moving more than they are stationary throughout the day. Moving as in...walking or aerobic exercise.
Of course many of us work at a desk and get caught up in the busyness of work. We forget or don't want to inconvenience others. We don’t move for extended periods of time. How many times have you had to eat lunch at your desk? Make it a habit to go for a walk at lunch time.
When we don’t physically work our body suffers. It suffers by giving us 'symptoms'. We feel sluggish. Our physical and mental energy drops. We gain weight. We experience pain. Our lymph system slows down along with circulation. We get sick more often. Exercise engages our whole body. It helps protect us from disease.
At a minimum level, studies show walking at least 10,000 steps each day or engaging in some type of aerobic exercise 20 minutes a day 5-6 times a week is essential. This improves health and reduces chance of major disease 30-50%. The right balance will depend upon your age, current health condition and your mobility. Exercise at a pace and frequency that fits your current health and schedule.
If you are going to a gym alternate different muscle groups on different days.
Exercising is a natural energy and mood booster. It improves your body’s circulation and supports increased oxygen levels.
Additionally, various brain chemicals like endorphins and adrenaline are activated by exercise. These are the feel good hormones. They make us feel happy.
If just starting to exercise... begin slowly. Aerobic exercise, like walking or swimming, is recommended. Depending upon your fitness level gradually work up to 20-30 minutes. If you decide to exercise more vigorously, ramp up slowly to give your body time to adjust. As a goal aim for 30, 45 or 75 minutes time frames, 3-4 times a week.
Don’t Fall Into The All or Nothing Trap:
I heard a story of a man who was in his late 30’s and had not been exercising as a habit. His weight was also an issue for him. So he stated he was going to exercise 60 minutes day for 5-6 days a week. Question: is that amount of exercise to start out... smart? Is it safe? Answer: No and No.
Ramp up your exercise with the goal of it becoming a continuing habit and ‘healthstyle’. It becomes a part of your life, a habit that continues on.
Cardiovascular health, (your heart is a muscle) is very important and is benefited greatly by exercise. Remember... you don’t want to neglect your muscles and bone strength. Doing weight lifting about 3 days a week will help these parts of your body get strong and remain healthy.
You also get more nutrients to your muscles and other vital organs when you exercise.
Benefit alert: Schedule a Free wellness consult with Patty, RN, wellness educator and consultant.
Keep Exercise Fun! Listen to music, use an exercise video or join an online group. Exercising with a friend can be more fun than exercising by yourself. Reach out to friends and encourage an exercise meetup. It's best to exercise with friends who are around your fitness level.
In our busy lives, you can’t always meetup with your friend because of location or schedule conflicts. One solution is having an online platform or mobile app that you both use to track your progress.
You can set up weekly virtual challenges and use zoom or your phone’s video call option. It’s a great way to stay motivated and encourage your competitive nature. You can sweat as much as you want to. You’re home.
Possible exercises to do in a week
- Swimming is a great moderate option for exercising. With every stroke and kick you work multiple muscles and body parts.
- Walking or jogging for 30 minutes is another great exercise to help your heart get an aerobic workout.
- Biking at a moderate or vigorous pace helps your body circulate oxygen throughout your body. A quick 30 minute workout can have you feeling happy and accomplished.
- Go to a gym and working with a personal trainer on different muscle groups.
- Yoga, a great breathing and stretching exercise, promotes heart, body, and mind health.
Remember, nutrition, what foods you are eating and how you handle stress, are an important part of your wellness plan.
Exercise alone won’t get you the best overall health results that you want.
You want to approach health and wellness as multiple parts coming together to maximize your health.
Knowing what you do now, you can make a balanced plan that uses weight training, stretching, and other exercises to meet your goal. For a detailed plan reach out to a health & wellness educator or a personal trainer at your gym to help you.
What happens next?
To answer my original question...exercise isn’t overrated. It’s proven to help us stay healthy and live a happier, more productive and better quality of life.
But, like most of life finding a reasonable balance and consistency will be most effective for your enjoyment and health.
All the best to developing your own ‘healthstyle’.
Lynn - wellness entrepreneur & health enthusiast
Patty - RN, wellness educator & consultant
P.S. Don't know where to start? Schedule a free wellness consultation call with Patty, RN.
P.S.S. Sasha Atkins was a contributing writer on the post. Thank you Sasha!