Physical exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness, and the simple reality is that most of us are not getting enough of it. Physical activity is a must for lasting wellness. Our bodies’ systems function optimally when we’re physically active. The lymph system, for instance, does a more thorough job of eliminating toxins in people who are physically active. Exercise can also bring the following benefits:
Keep you young. Workouts such as brisk walking or cycling boost the amount of oxygen consumed during exercise. Improving your aerobic capacity by just 15 to 25 percent is approximately equivalent to shaving 10 to 20 years off your age. Aerobic exercise may also stimulate the growth of new brain cells in older adults.
Reduce infections. Moderate workouts temporarily rev-up the immune system by increasing the capacity of the cells that make up the immune system. That may explain why people who exercise catch fewer colds.
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 can significantly cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Combat stress. Regular aerobic exercise lowers levels of stress hormones. It deeply oxygenates the blood and releases endorphins that make you feel better when you’re over-stressed.
Prolong life. Studies over many years have consistently shown that being physically active cuts the risk of premature death by about 50 percent.
If you are struggling to get enough exercise, one trick is to choose a form of exercise that you actually enjoy doing. You are much more likely to stay with an exercise routine that you find enjoyable. It can be brisk walking, bicycling, swimming, yoga, working out—whatever form of physical activity that suits you best. Another way to increase your motivation is to join a club or group or play a sport. Combining your exercise pro- gram with social interaction is tremendously helpful in keeping you motivated. If you run, join a running group. If cycling is your thing, get a group together. Sign up for a squash or racquetball league. Take yoga lessons. Join a gym or get a rec center pass. If you do, an added benefit is to take an infrared sauna afterward for a deep sweat that will remove heavy metals and other toxins from your body. This further reduces stress and creates energy. There are hundreds of options out there for you to explore; you owe it to yourself to get up and move!
There are also many ways to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine. Choose stairs over elevators. Walk to the store rather than just getting into your car. If it’s feasible, bike to work. If you work at a desk job, it is critical that you break up sitting with some form of exercise or stretching. Sitting is the new smoking; people who sit at a desk all day only to go home and sit on the couch are slowly killing themselves. If possible, get a standing desk, or one that can adjust from sitting to standing so that you can vary your position over the course of the day.
Daily aerobic exercise is a great natural cure for emotional problems. The changes in brain chemistry brought on by aerobic exercise can be as effective as— or even more effective than—antidepressant medication. Regular exercise also increases your ability to focus and your willpower.
More Exercise Possibilities
- Planking (for core)
- Squats (for lower back and leg muscles)
- Tabata training (burns calories and fat fast)
- 30 minutes of walking a day (a low-impact, “whole-body” exercise)
- Yoga (to increase flexibility, strength and balance)
To sum up, it’s in everyone’s best interest to make a commitment to regularly engage in some form of exercise. A simple guide is to shoot for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least four days a week. At minimum, try to walk every day. Take one step at a time and, before you know it, you’ll be incorporating exercise into your daily routine. You’ll feel better, have more energy, and be on the path to lifelong health and fitness!