Spring is on the horizon. A time the world begins to wake up from the winter and desires to move beyond existing boundaries. Although it is essential to stay active throughout the year consistently, February is a great time to talk about exercise and movement. I know you have heard this before but being physically active is one of the most important steps you can take at any age to improve your health. It can prevent many chronic health conditions like cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of premature death in the United States. It can also help lower the risk of diabetes 2, high blood pressure, and depression. Here are some other benefits associated with regular physical activity.
• Reduces stress levels and depression while improving mood and energy levels
• Increase muscle strength, endurance, and ability to use oxygen.
• Increase HDL, the good cholesterol. Help regulate blood sugar
• Maintains bone density and prevents osteoporosis.
• Improves joint structure and joint function, posture, agility, and range of motion.
• Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, improves circulation, and helps control blood pressure.
• Regulates sleeping.
• Decreases body fat and increases lean body mass.
Let's start a conversation. If we know the benefits of regular exercise and movement, why do so many people struggle to stay active? There are many reasons, but the top three are time, convenience, connection. We'll begin with time. Many people say they don't have time to exercise. I believe we make time for the things that are important to us. Maybe exercise is not essential to you, but playing with your kids or grandkids is a top priority. Try shifting your perspective to focus on the meaningful benefits of exercising instead of the reasons you don't enjoy it.
Are you still short on time? Here's a plus. Honestly, you don't need to spend a lot of time being physically active to gain health benefits. I'll keep it simple. The recommended dose of activity to gain health benefits is at least 150 minutes (2.5 Hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week. That's it! Your chosen activity could be walking, swimming, biking, hiking, dancing, gardening, or yoga. If you add two days a week of muscle-strengthening activity a week, you are doing one of the best things you can do for your health - body, mind, and spirit.
Convenience is also a common reason people don't exercise or stick to a routine. If heading to the gym after work doesn't fit into your schedule, perhaps going home to ride bikes with your kids for 30 minutes works perfectly. Maybe you can squeeze in a yoga class at lunch, take the stairs at work, park in the furthest spot in a lot, or take a quick walk after dinner. You just need to move. Be mindful and creative! Find an activity that works with your schedule.
Lastly, many people don't stick to a plan because they are not excited or connected to the activity. If you don't like going to the gym to lift weights, be honest with yourself. Please stop trying to make it part of your exercise routine. It will set you up for failure. If you fail, learn from it and try something else. If you are not excited about the activity you chose, it will not stick around to become a habit. There are many different ways to be active. Do some personal exploration and find an activity that you can connect with and enjoy.
Get up. Go!