We all know that regular exercise along with balanced nutrition is a necessary part of good health. However, even minor efforts can produce healthful results. In fact, a recent study found that engaging in physical activity as little as a half hour daily can add on two to three years of life expectancy. This should come as encouraging news for all couch potatoes. Get moving! Any exercise is better than none at all. If you have existing health problems or are over the age of forty, consult with a healthcare provider before starting a new exercise plan or changing an existing one.
5 Tips for Reaching your Exercise Goals
|1. Pick exercises that you really enjoy.
2. Increase your success rate by exercising with a friend or fitness coach.
3. Stay motivated by keeping an exercise journal that outlines your accomplishments.
4. Evaluate your progress bi-weekly, not every day.
5. Reward yourself by doing something fun that supports your healthy efforts.
Choosing an activity that you enjoy, such as swimming, bicycling, or dancing will make exercise more fun and not a chore. Even household activities such as gardening, mowing the lawn, cleaning your house, and washing your car count as exercise. Recreation really does help you re-create your feeling of well-being.
Your mind, body, and spirit can all benefit from engaging in physical activity. For your body, exercise helps to protect against the development of chronic diseases, supports healthy bone density, supports healthy weight management, increases heart and lung function, and has a positive effect on cholesterol levels and blood pressure. And for your mind and spirit, exercise decreases muscle tension, can enhance feelings of well-being, improves your ability to handle stress, and often improves self-esteem and elevates mood.
A combination of exercises (cardiovascular, strength training, and stretching) is a good mix for your fitness routine. Each type of exercise has separate benefits. For example, aerobic/cardiovascular exercises improve the body’s capacity to use fuel (food or fat) and oxygen. Aerobic exercise increases the amount of blood that is supplied to the muscles and increases oxygen delivery throughout the body. Just twenty minutes a day of aerobic exercise can lower blood pressure and strengthen the heart. Power walking, playing sports, cross-country skiing, and taking an aerobics class are some great examples of cardiovascular activities. Aim for at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least three days a week.
Strength training exercises help to build strong muscles, increase bone density, and support healthy joint function. Pilates, yoga, using weights and resistance bands, martial arts, and using a punching bag are all forms of strength training. Devote at least 2 days a week to strength training and be sure to give adequate recovery time for each muscle group.
Stretching exercises are recommended BOTH before and after physical activity. Stretching prepares muscles for exercise, protects muscles against injury, enhances flexibility, improves circulation, reduces stress, and provides better range of motion for your joints. Stretching is something that you can easily do just about anywhere, even while sitting in your chair. Stretch for about 5-10 minutes before and after each activity.