The human body was designed for activity, and by exercising regularly and making smart food choices, you’ll look and feel better every day. Fitness is about improving muscular strength and endurance, cardiorespiratory strength and endurance, and flexibility through regular physical activity. That even includes things like walking the dog, raking leaves, or playing tag with the kids. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, we should be getting 150 minutes a week of physical activity. 150 minutes may sound like a lot, but when you break it down it equals 2 hours and 30 minutes over a 7 day span. That is only 10 minutes a day of doing moderate or vigorous physical activity that is over and beyond your normal everyday routine. 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 10 minutes of physical activity every day and build up from there.
The health benefits of exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. The benefits are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, gender or physical ability. Always check with your Doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you haven’t exercised for a long time, have any concerns or have chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis.
1. Exercise to control weight: Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking in a space that is farther away from your destination.
2. Exercise to combat 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 and arthritis.
3. Exercise to improve mood: Had a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Being in good shape can reduce anxiety and depression, help you manage stress better and improve your self-esteem which can boost your confidence.
4. Exercise to boost 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. When your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores and routines.
5. Exercise for fun: Staying active is a great way to have fun, make new friends and also spend quality time with family and loved ones. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Take a dance class, go hiking or join a sports team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. If you get bored, try something new.
You do not have to join a gym to get the benefits of exercise and physical activities. Here are some you can do on your own, with a group of friends or family members. • Use a push mower to mow the lawn. • Go for a walk in a nearby park. • Take the stairs instead of an elevator. • Bike to work, to run errands, or to visit friends. • Clean out the garage or the attic. • Walk with a friend over the lunch hour. • Volunteer to become a coach or referee. • Sign up for a group exercise class. • Join a softball/ basketball/volleyball league. • Do some gardening. • Sign up for a fun obstacle course. • Go swimming. • Canoeing or kayaking.