We’ve all heard the expression, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” We’re not sure how accurate that statement is, but we do know that a little bit of exercise each day will help you live a healthier, happier life.
Exercise is defined as any movement that makes your muscles work and requires your body to burn calories. According to the American College of Sports Medicine everyone should exercise 30 to 60 minutes, five days a week.
Everyone can substantially benefit by exercising, no matter your age, gender or physical ability. The following is a list of just a handful of the benefits of physical activity, based on information included in blogs by Mayo Clinic and Healthline.
- Control Weight: Studies have shown that regular exercise can increase metabolism, which helps burn more calories and can lead to weight loss.
- Improves Mood: Physical activity stimulates chemicals in the brain that help people feel happier and more relaxed. Exercise can also increase self esteem and lower anxiety.
- Fun and Social: Exercise can be done alone, but it can also be done with friends and family. By encouraging each other physically, a stronger bond is built between participants.
- Builds Bones and Muscles: As people age, muscle mass and function generally decrease. Exercise helps build bone density and grow muscle tone and reduce breakdowns.
- Improves Brain Health: Physical activity increases heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain. Exercise can also encourage the production of hormones that help with brain growth.
- Boosts Energy: Regular exercise increases endurance and builds muscle strength, which will give you more energy to complete tasks. Exercise also delivers oxygen and nutrients to the body, which helps the cardiovascular system work more efficiently.
- Improve Sleep: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that 150 minutes of physical activity per week can improve sleep quality by up to 65 percent.
- Prevent Disease: Being active increases the “good” cholesterol (HDL) and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. Exercise can help manage or maintain numerous health concerns including:
- High blood pressure
- Many types of cancer
For many people, exercise can be intimidating, but it does not need to be complicated. Increasing physical activity can be as simple as taking the stairs more often or parking in a far spot in the parking lot. Any amount of activity is better than none.
The following is a list of ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily life.
Take the stairs: If your desk is on the third floor of the building, try taking the stairs instead of the elevator. At home, you can get exercise on the stairs by adding extra trips up and down to get your heart rate up. This will increase your step count and encourage blood flow and metabolism. You could even take breaks during the day to go up and down the stairs to build strength and endurance.
Go for a walk: According to research by the University of Missouri School of Medicine, sitting for six hours or more significantly impairs vascular function.
Any down time in your day can be used as walk time. If the weather cooperates, go outside and enjoy the fresh air as you exercise. If you cannot designate time for a walk, try parking farther back in the parking lot or walking to someone’s desk to talk rather than calling or sending them a message. Any way you can add steps to your day will improve your health.
Bike more: Communities across the country are investing in bike lanes so that residents can safely bike to work or anywhere in town. You don’t have to pedal like you are in the Tour de France, but the added physical activity will improve your overall health.
Here are a few additional ideas from The Active Times.
- Stand up while working whenever possible.
- Walk somewhere in your office every hour.
- If possible, go to the gym during your lunch break.
- If you can’t leave your desk, stretch to get your blood flowing.
- Play fitness oriented video games, like Wii Fit or Dance Dance Revolution.
- Have a dance party just for fun.
- Clean. (It actually burns calories.)
- Play with your pets or take them for a walk.
- Any time you have a few minutes, do a few sets of bodyweight exercises (squats, lunges, push-ups, burpees, etc.).
Out and About:
- Walk or ride your bike whenever possible.
- Park your car as far away from the door as possible when running errands.
- Always take the stairs.
- Stand on public transportation and get off at the stop before yours to get more steps.
- Plan activities that involve physical activity like going for a hike instead of going to the movies.
Regular exercise positively impacts nearly every aspect of your body. Starting today, think of simple ways to incorporate more physical activity into your daily life. Your body will thank you!