WELLNESS WEDNESDAY: What is one of single most important things we can do for our health? And is FREE?

11 Oct, 2011

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY: What is one of single most important things we can do for our health? And is FREE?Yes, you guessed it. Exercise.

To some, just the thought of tight pants, heavy weights or hill running makes you feel sick and exercise gets put on the back-burner for as long as possible.

If this is you, or if you just need some motivation to continue on your exercise regime, here are 19 reasons why you should to make exercise part of your lifestyle.

The 19 Benefits of Exercise

  1. Releases Beta-endorphins: your body’s natural anti-depressant
  2. Strengthens stage III and IV of your sleep cycle –deep sleep – which assists anti-ageing
  3. Prevents osteoporosis
  4. Increases oxygen to the brain
  5. Lowers cholesterol
  6. Burns fat tissue (especially aerobic sessions over 40 minutes)
  7. Helps coronary arteries by enlarging openings
  8. Releases circulating fibrinolysins which keep blood viscosity down (i.e. less likely to have a thrombosis)
  9. Clears “acidosis” from food allergies
  10. Improves the digestive system
  11. Boosts immunity
  12. Keeps joints mobile
  13. Helps overcome “mental puff/brain fog” – improves mental focus and concentration
  14. Develops stamina
  15. Purges pesticides and herbicides through sweat ducts
  16. Enhances libido
  17. Assists in preventing cancer
  18. Circulation improves throughout whole body, improving physical, emotional and mental clarity – AH HA memory therefore improves
  19. Improves general energy levels

It’s no wonder exercise has been labelled as the single biggest thing available to us for optimum health.

Now that you know why it’s so important to your health and well-being, let’s break it down into simple how-to steps.

Many people have thrown in the towel with exasperation after hearing the guidelines for healthy living, recommending 30 to 90 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day. The great news is this doesn’t have to be all at once and it can add up very quickly.

Whether the activity is divided up into 10- and 15-minue segments, most people benefit from at least a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases.

Some suggested ways to reach this amount include:

Dancing, Walking briskly, Biking, Golfing, Swimming, Gardening, Pacing while on the phone, Taking the stairs at work, Walking while shopping

As the list above shows, the guidelines don’t require meeting the time recommendations through structured exercise alone. Half the time can be spent on a structured activity, while the other half can be accumulating from using the stairs or walking around whenever possible (at work, home, etc.).

For people that are new to exercise, it’s also important not to feel overwhelmed or injure yourself, just start small and get the ball rolling. Find activities that are fun and where you exercise at the same time.  As you start feeling the benefits you’ll be motivated to do more.

As you exercise, endorphins are released in the body: your “feel good” hormones. Exercise also decreases adrenaline – the stress hormone. So, with a bit of regular exercise you can really start feeling good while minimizing your stress levels.

For people exercising 30 minutes and still experiencing weight gain, increasing the time to 60 minutes maybe required. Additionally, those who have lost a significant amount of weight and are striving to keep it off might need as much as 90 minutes of exercise a day.

Making Exercise a Priority

Most people can reach the recommended exercise goals by simply making it part of their daily routine. The key is to make exercise a habit and figure out what time of the day works best, such as:

  • Before going to work
  • During lunch hour
  • Right after work
  • In the evening with a friend

The thing is, most of us just don’t want to exercise, even when it has become part of our daily lives. The hardest thing is simply starting, and the motivation comes from knowing how much better we feel when we do make the effort. The trick at any stage of exercising is to just book it in. Schedule it in your diary and make it an official appointment which you cannot cancel.

Use Exercise Effectively

The key to exercising is to make sure you are using it effectively. By doing so, you will ensure all your hard efforts (and time) are not wasted and are having a positive effect on your body. To aid you in your efforts, there are three important variables to exercise to keep in mind:

Length of time, Frequency and Intensity.

While there are great general benefits from low intensity exercise like slow walking, it generally isn’t sufficient intensity for weight loss or heart benefits. While you’re out of shape, low intensity exercise is great, but the good and bad news is you will become fit relatively slowly and require a constant increase in exercise intensity to maintain training effect.

You will get health benefit from any intensity exercise, but for cardiovascular health and weight loss the intensity needs to be increased.

The simple way you can find out if you are exercising hard enough is to increase the intensity of your workout until you are having a difficult time talking to someone.

Once you are there, decrease ever so slightly and you will be at your ideal intensity range. It is important to understand that with time, this will continue to increase but some days you might actually have to go backwards as stress or illness will decrease your fitness level temporarily.

Note: If you can easily carry on a conversation with someone next to you, then in all likelihood you are going too slow to generate the aerobic benefits that exercise is capable of doing; if you cannot carry on a conversation at all, then you have gone too far and need to decrease the intensity.

Here are some exercise-related research snippets, taken from our Facebook Page:

Exercising first thing in the morning can significantly lessen the bad effects of an unhealthy diet. Research shows young men fed a high- fat diet for six weeks and who exercised before breakfast gained almost no weight nor showed no signs of insulin resistance at the end of the study.

According to research, the more you walk, the more you lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes. Participants who took 10 000 steps every day, 5 x a week, improved their insulin sensitivity by 3 times compared with those who only took 3000 steps.

Yoga-goers who hit the mat 3 x a week reported better moods and lower anxiety, compared with people who walked for the same amount of time, says Boston University researchers. Regular yoga practice increases your brain’s level of the calming chemical GABA.

ATTENTION WOMEN: Don’t sacrifice a work-out for work. Women who exercise at least twice a week feel more in control of their jobs and find them less demanding than those who don’t work out.

A study from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, found that 30 minutes of physical activity 3-5 times a week can reduce symptoms of IBS by 50%.

According to the American Psychological Association, spending more time in nature and exercising can be as effective as drugs or counselling in treating mental health issues.

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