The Benefits of Regular Activity – It’s More than Physical!

With our lives-on-the-go, fitting in one more thing seems almost impossible. Kids, school, work, pets, errands, soccer, laundry, cleaning, getting gas, groceries…I’m getting overwhelmed just writing it down! Yet we take more on each and every day. And in the process, our time to rejuvenate ourselves gets smaller and smaller.

When my to do list is a mile long and I think I’ll never get it all done, I get overwhelmed. When this happens, the first thing I ask myself is, “have I worked out lately?” Yes, that is the first question. Why? Because after years of going through this cycle and getting to know myself, I know that if I don’t exercise, I get…well, shall we say, not ‘myself’?

Exercise has been proven to increase energy and elevate our moods. There is endless research by reputable sources to tell us that exercising helps us function better mentally, physically and emotionally. Yet, we don’t make enough time for ourselves to exercise on a regular basis because- We. Just. Don’t. Have. The. Time.

Let’s look at the positives of WHY we should exercise. Then we’ll look at the ways we can fit it into 10 minutes, 60, or anywhere in between.

The Mayo Clinic gives these 7 benefits of regular exercise:

1. Exercise controls weight
When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories and can prevent excess weight gain or lose weight. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn.

2. Exercise combats health conditions and diseases
No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

3. Exercise improves mood
Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

4. Exercise boosts energy
Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores.

5. Exercise promotes better sleep
Struggling to fall asleep? Or to stay asleep? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime or you may be too energized to fall asleep.

6. Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life
Regular physical activity can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life. But there’s more to it than that. Regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.

7. Exercise can be fun
Exercise and physical activity can be a fun way to spend some time by yourself or connect with family or friends. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. If you get bored, try something new.

Here are a few ways to increase our activity in our everyday lives:

1. Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator.
2. Take a brisk walk on your lunch break.
3. Walk or ride your bicycle to work.
4. Play outside with your kids.
5. Change your current exercise routine with new activities, routes, and formats.
6. Start a new exercise program that you’ve never tried before: kettlebell training, dancing or racquet sports.
7. During commercial breaks on TV, do air squats, planks and/or balance exercises.

Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time, have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, or you have any concerns. Need help creating a program? Find a local Certified Personal Trainer.

Shasonta Delmage is owner of LiveFit, a personal training organization in Whatcom County. She is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Functional Movement Systems specialist, CrossFit Advanced Kettlebell and Level 1 trainer. She is currently training for the StrongFirst Girya (SFG) certification, known as the most prestigious kettlebell certification existing today.

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