- Exercise & Fitness
Get off the Couch and Get Moving to a Healthier You
My Decision to Energize My Life
After leaving the corporate world of finance, I found myself quickly changing from a fast paced always moving person, to someone completely sedentary. While I told myself I deserved a break and some time to relax, 6 months was far too long. I found myself weekly saying I would start some exercise program the next week. The next week, turned into the next month and I didn't do anything. I researched several programs, even joined the gym, but nothing really appealed to me aside from sitting on the couch. I have two children and this is not the example I wanted to display to them. In addition I knew I was becoming unhealthier by the day. I found myself feeling very sluggish and somewhat depressed. I finally decided to do something about it and made it my mission to learn more about the benefits of exercise and enjoyable ways to achieve those benefits.
Benefits of Physical Activity
As I began to research more about the benefits of physical activity, I realized they are tremendous. People of any age can greatly improve their overall health and well-being by becoming more active. Even moderate intensity activity has wonderful benefits. It doesn't take strenuous workouts that are painful and boring to realize the benefits. Instead finding activities you enjoy will lead to a healthier you.
A number of studies have been completed that clearly show that regular physical activity substantially reduces risk of heart disease. As you exercise your heart gets a workout too. The stronger your heart is, the better it can pump blood through the arteries. This also contributes to lowering blood pressure. Physical activity decreases your risk of stroke, cancer and diabetes as well as maintains immune functioning. Your immune system protects you from infection and toxins, while playing a role in maintaining a healthy response to stress. It has been determined that even short-term exercise programs can reverse some of the effects of aging on the immune system which controls so much of your everyday health.
Physical activity also helps to control weight by reducing body fat. Regular exercise reduces your level of body fat by swapping the fat for the fat-free tissues in your body. The more you exercise, the more you are able to work off body fat because muscle burns more calories, effectively speeding up your metabolism. In addition you are building muscle mass to help you stay more fit. Exercise is also the key to maintaining your bone and joint health.
Another noticeable benefit is that people who exercise have a lower risk of depression. Exercise improves your mood by causing your body's endorphins to kick in. These exercise induced releases of endorphins eventually improve your overall mental health over the long term. I immediately noticed this difference in myself. With regular activity, I felt better about myself and had more energy. My son commented on the change, stating I was more fun. With my renewed energy we do more things together. I make it a point to get outside with him. Even if we are just kicking the ball back and forth, at least I am off the couch and getting all the benefits of physical activity.
Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred
Think about your own activity level
How physically active are you?
Ways to Increase Your Activity Level
If you are like me, then you find yourself in the "low level of activity". Once I started, I quickly moved up to the moderate level and working towards the highly active. I found that the more activity I engaged in, the more I wanted to engage in. I started very simple with walks with my son. This quickly led to easy jogs while he rides his bike. While we used to drive to the park, a few blocks away, we now walk. He is getting the benefits of exercise as well and we both enjoy being outside. On cold days, I grab my 5 pound weights and do steps on a step stool while watching TV. Before I know it, 30 minutes have gone by and I feel so energized. I have recently started the 30 day shred video by Jillian Michaels. It is higher intensity, but only 20 minutes of my day and the effects are well worth it. As I mentioned earlier, I joined 24 hour fitness, where there are a number of classes I enjoy. At this point I am only going once a week for some variety, but planning on increasing that. My goal at this point is to ensure I incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise into everyday.
It important that you find activities that you can do regularly. I have found that fitting activity into a daily routine can be easy. Even if its just a quick brisk 10 minute walk. Every little bit adds up and doing something is always better then doing nothing. However you should make sure to do at least 10 minutes of activity at a time as shorter bursts will not have the same health benefit. For example taking a quick 10 minute walk before work, during lunch and after work can add to your daily goal of 30 minutes. Activities should be in at least periods of 10 minutes for the full benefit.
Mix up your activities to keep it interesting. Joining a local walking or jogging group. Walking with others allows you to socialize while still getting exercise. Get the kids involved as I did, play with them rather then watch them play. Tumble in the leaves, build a snowman or dance to your favorite music. Don't want to miss your favorite show, stretch or exercise while watching it. In addition to my step stool with weights, I now do ab exercises while watching TV. Other fun activities might include swimming, canoeing or golf (without the golf cart!). Play basketball, racquetball, soccer or any other sport you enjoy. The most important thing is to have fun while being active. This will ensure that you keep it up!
24 Hour Fitness Classes
Time to Get Started
The first step in increasing your activity level is to set achievable goals. My current goal is 30 minutes per day. I plan to increase that to 45 minutes while increasing my intensity level by the end of next month. However I started with 15 minutes per day. The key is to set achievable goals. When you start to add physical activity to your daily routines, the level of difficulty you experience will depend on where you start. If you are already somewhat active, it can be very easy. However if you are a true couch potato, as I was, it can be somewhat more difficult. Don't try too much too quickly, rather take an incremental approach.
Always remember, its not what you do, but how well you can do it. As you increase your activity level, you will increase your fitness level along with your capacity for physical activity. All the research shows that even modest improvements in fitness levels have overall health benefits. Each improvement will propel you to the next stage. Don't overdue it from the beginning or you first reaction will be to give it up. Take your time and stick to it. You will soon notice that it is getting easier. At that point you are ready to set your next goal. Gradually integrating more physical activity into your daily routine will improve your chances of sustaining the change.