I went to meet a colleague for the first time. We arranged to meet at a Starbucks. The meeting was scheduled for 11:00 in the morning. When I arrived, she was there, sitting at a table. We exchanged hellos before settling into the conversation we came for. She was a publicist. I was being interviewed.
We discussed exercise and the benefits of physical activity. She told me exercise was not her “thing”. I noticed she was wearing a fitness tracker watch. I assumed she was counting steps, so I asked her about it. She confirmed she was counting steps, but shared that with her very busy desk job, she just did not have time to get a walk in every day. Voluntarily she showed me the steps she had taken so far that morning. Her watch read 41.
Most of us know that exercise is good for us. But did you know that just 30 minutes of physical activity on most days is all that’s required to reap big benefits? These 30 minutes do not need to be all at once, in a gym, on a treadmill, or in a spin studio where a membership is required.
The time spent in physical activity can be interspersed throughout the day and still create benefit. Here are a few examples. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking from a distant parking spot to the front door, stretching while watching TV, or revving up your household chores.
There are a lot of benefits showing why exercise is important, if not critical, for our health. Listed are just eight important benefits or reasons to start making exercise a priority:
- Exercise helps with weight loss. To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume. Engaging in physical activity burns calories and increases the metabolic rate. The more intense the activity and the higher metabolic rate, the more calories burned.
- Exercise improves mood. No matter the intensity of the exercise, your mood will benefit from the activity. Chemicals are released in the brain when exercising that help decrease feelings of stress and anxiety and increase feelings of happiness and relaxation.
- Exercise combats a wide range of illness and disease. Moderate workouts temporarily boost the immune system by increasing the aggressiveness or capacity of immune cells. This may explain why people who exercise catch fewer colds. Not only does exercise enrich immunity, it also raises the “good” HDL cholesterol and lowers blood pressure, which is a formula to improve cardiovascular disease, responsible for heart attacks and strokes.
- Exercise perks up energy. As the cardiovascular system works to send oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles, tissues and brain, energy improves. When you are feeling sluggish and unmotivated try a little physical activity. Even a leisurely stroll could make a significant energy difference.
- Exercise helps control blood sugar. Exercise helps maintain a healthy blood-sugar level by increasing the cells’ sensitivity to insulin and by controlling weight. Regular brisk walking for instance, can significantly cut the risk of developing type II diabetes.
- Exercise improves sleep. By tiring yourself out and fortifying your circadian rhythms, (your internal 24-hour clock) with exercise, sleep is more restful as your body relaxes and recuperates; the perfect recipe for feeling more alert the following day.
- Exercise promotes brain health and memory. Increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain improves brain function and protects memory. Exercise provides a supportive environment for the growth of brain cells and the improvement of focus and concentration.
- Exercise is fun… and social! Friends and family can keep fit and have fun by sharing in accountability, encouragement and physical activity. Take a hike, go dancing, or join a water exercise class. Try something new and take a friend along.
Exercise is medicine. Think of it as the medicine you need to take daily to improve your health and your overall life performance. Making exercise a propriety reaps numerous benefits in relatively short order. It will change your body, your mind, your attitude, your mood, your sleep, and even the number of steps tracked on your fitness tracker.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Creasey MA, BS, CHC, CPT is passionate about motivating, inspiring and educating people to improve their health, wellness and overall life performance. She is a speaker, author, adjunct kinesiology professor, Aquatic Training Specialist, certified health coach, and a certified personal trainer. Find her on www.karencreasey.com