A lot of people ask me the question, “How does exercise or fitness fit into your health program?” The answer in short, IT IS ESSENTIAL! In order to achieve optimal health, you have to move your body! Now that doesn’t mean you need to train like Lance Armstrong or the Williams sisters, but getting 20 minutes 4 to 5 times per week can make a huge difference in your life.
If you've been looking for the motivation to get moving or get back into working out regularly, here are 10 fitness facts that may help to inspire you to get off the couch and take the kids (or dog) for a walk.
1. Exercise Boosts Brainpower
Not only does exercise improve your body, it helps your mental function as well. Exercise increases energy levels and serotonin in the brain, which leads to improved mental clarity. And as you can probably guess, makes for a more productive day.
It is clear that those who are active and who exercise are much more productive at work. Improved productivity not only makes you a better worker, it makes things better for everyone in the workplace. Companies with less wasted work hours and less sick time end up with lower health care costs -- and an improved bottom line (not to mention an improved bottom end!).
2. Movement Melts Away Stress
As much as it may stress you out just to think about exercising, once you actually start working out, you'll experience less stress in every part of your life. Exercise produces a relaxation response that serves as a positive distraction. It also helps elevate your mood and keep depression at bay.
You're not the only person who will benefit from more happiness and less stress in your life. When you're less stressed, you're less irritable -- and that could improve relationships with your spouse, kids, and co-workers. I am living proof that this principle WORKS!
You might be surprised at how, say, popping in a workout tape for 20 minutes in the morning can change your whole day. When endorphins are released into your bloodstream during exercise, you feel much more energized the rest of the day.
And when you improve your strength and stamina, it's easier to accomplish everyday tasks like carrying groceries and climbing stairs. This also helps you feel more energetic over the course of the day. Hehe.. you said.. endorphins!
4. It's Not That Hard to Find Time for Fitness
The key is to use your time more wisely. Think about killing two birds with one stone.
Take your kids to the park or ride bikes together, and you're getting physical activity while enjoying family time. Beyond that, go for a hike, take the kids swimming, or play hide-and-seek, tag, softball, or horseshoes in the backyard.
At work, schedule a meeting on the jogging track or on the golf course. GOLF, did someone say golf? Squirrel!
5. Fitness Can Help Build Relationships
Think of what exercising with a partner can do for a relationship, whether it's with a spouse, a sibling, or a friend you used to go to lunch with once a week. Not only that, but exercise is always more fun when there's someone to do it with. Make a plan to walk with your spouse after dinner every night. Meet your sister or that friend for tennis or an aerobics class instead of lunch. Besides, people who have exercise partners stay with their programs and reach their goals more often than those who try to go it alone.
"For long-term weight loss, you need to have social support," again, gotta love those health coaches!
Research has shown that exercise can slow or help prevent heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis (bone loss), and loss of muscle mass. It also helps ease some aspects of the aging process.
Because exercise strengthens the muscles and joints, it is going to reduce your odds of having some of those “aches and pains” and problems most adults have, mostly because of the inactive lives they lead.
Provided you don't overdo it, exercise can even boost immune function -- so you spend less time down with a cold or flu. Who wouldn't want that?
Not only does exercise help fight disease, but it creates a stronger heart -- the most important muscle in the body. That helps makes exercise -- and the activities of daily life -- feel easier. Ahhhhhh!
Your heart and cardiovascular system will function more effectively and your heart will build up less plaque. It will become a more efficient pump. When the heart becomes stronger, it pumps more blood per beat; so at rest your heart rate is lower & It's not going to have to beat as fast to expend the same amount of effort.
Within only a couple days after you start exercising, the body readily adapts to the stimulus it's getting and it becomes easier. You will feel less fatigue. It will not take as much effort when it comes to breathing. You shouldn't have as much pain or soreness. NO MORE BEN-GAY!
8. Exercise Lets You Eat More
Pound for pound, muscle burns more calories at rest than body fat. So the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate. And…… of course, you also burn calories while you're actually exercising.
All this means is that "cheating" with a healthy treat once in a while isn't going to take you back 10 steps. Can you eat anything you want, whenever you want? NO! But when you are at a healthy weight, you can afford to enjoy some of the things you really like. You can better get away with those things in moderation than you can when you're not working out.
After a few weeks of consistent exercise, you may feel your clothes fitting differently and see that your muscle tone has improved.
You may also notice your newly pumped-up muscles in other ways, especially if you're a recreational golfer or tennis player, or like a friendly game of pick-up basketball. Exercising consistently will strengthen your muscles, increase flexibility, and improve your overall performance.
10. Exercise Can Help You Lose Weight & Feel Great
Weight loss is the reason many people exercise in the first place, but it's certainly not the sole benefit of an exercise program. Really, you should think about the level of functioning in the activities of daily living. That can serve as the motivation to keep you going back for more.
So whatever weight loss goal you have when starting a fitness program, don't make it your only goal. Strive to feel better, to have more energy, to be less stressed. Notice the small things that exercise does for you quickly, rather than getting hung up on the narrow goal of the number on a scale.
With a goal of losing weight and enhancing health, exercise has to become a part of a person's life, not just an afterthought.
Okay Forrest, hit the ground running!