When you think of a healthy lifestyle, there's a good chance that one of the first things you think about is exercise. Today's installment in our Healthy Habits Series is all about the benefits of exercise and some tips and recommendations for types of exercise as well as duration.
Physical activity on a regular basis is a wonderful way to improve your health and provide long term benefits. Some of those benefits include increased brain health, management of weight, reduced risk of disease, strengthening your bones and muscles, and generally improve your ability to do everyday tasks.
While some benefits of exercise take longer to see, some take place immediately following a moderate-to-vigorous session of activity. For instance, children ages 6-13 years old can see improved cognition after these exercise sessions. In adults, you might experience reduced short-term feelings of anxiety. When it comes to overall brain health, you might have heard of people "keeping their minds sharp" with activities such as word puzzles or trivia. However, physical activity is just as important for keeping your mind sharp as you age! Exercise has been shown to aid in maintaining sharper senses of learning, thinking, and use of judgment. Mental health isn't just about cognition though. Exercise also helps with the emotional side of mental health too! It's often the case that increased movement can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety and can even help you sleep better.
You've probably heard the age-old advice for weight loss to be "diet and exercise." While there's plenty of other factors, diet and exercise does play a big part in a weight loss journey. Weight is gained by consuming more calories (through both eating and drinking) than the amount of calories being burned off. If you're looking to maintain your weight, you can spend 150 minutes per week doing moderate physical activity. This does not have to come from exercise in a gym. It can include activities like playing sports, dancing, or even doing some yard work. The weekly breakdown of those 150 minutes can be done in 30 minutes per day for 5 days of the week. As is the case in many aspects of healthcare, everyone is slightly different in their needs. Be attentive to your body, work your way up to that 150 minutes, and then adjust as needed based on your goals for your weight. For instance, if you're looking to lose weight rather than merely maintain, you'll need to adjust so that you have a higher amount of physical activity while also reducing your calorie intake.
If you're like me (Kaitlyn, Valley Medical - Downtown), you might dread working out or other forms of physical activity due to simply not liking stereotypical forms of physical activity such as running, lifting weights, or being in the gym. While those stereotypical forms of physical activity are certainly valid and provide plenty of good, healthy benefits, they are not the only way to get exercise! Find some forms of movement you enjoy, and start working your way up in the amount of time spent participating in those activities. Some suggestions are listed below...
Go to the park with your kids/grandkids
Join a hiking group or other fitness club
Dance or Aerobics
Biking (either stationary or traditional)
Take the stairs instead of the elevator
Walk your dog
Try a new sport
Kickboxing or martial arts
YouTube a Pilates class
Try a Spin class
Yard work or household chores