Exercising is key in creating a healthy lifestyle and supporting your health. By introducing new and interesting physical activities into your life and routine, you strengthen your immune system, increase your metabolism, and add happy chemicals to your brain. There is no down side! As a basic medical recommendation, a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day is suggested for most people. Anything that gets your heart rate up and your body moving in a healthy way is likely to have long-term benefits.
The Basics of Exercise
The Department of Health and Human Services suggests that healthy adults incorporate cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercise and strength training to stay fit and active. Formally, the HHS asks that we try to do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, as well as strength training exercises at least twice per week. This is not limited to machines and gyms, however. You can find myriad ways to strengthen yourself and get your blood flowing without doing a typical fitness plan in a club setting.
The benefits of healthy physical activity are lowering your risk of chronic illness, increasing balance and coordination, weight loss, among many others. By taking up regular exercise, you can reduce your risk of heart disease, control your weight, and strengthen your muscles and bones. Anyone who has medical concerns or who has not exercised for a long period of time should consult their doctor before diving into a new, active lifestyle.
If you like, you can design your own fitness program based on what you already know of yourself. Think of what you enjoy and what you don’t, and work something fun into your schedule to keep you moving. Plan ways to make sure you stay consistent and don’t let obstacles get in the way. Always consider what will realistically work best for you and your schedule. Start gradually, and work your way into a healthy routine where you can get the most out of your workout and create a positive lifelong habit.
A Big Stretch
Stretching is important to any kind of exercise, as most workouts and strength training activities cause muscles to flex and contract. In order to safely continue your exercise habits, you should get a good stretch in whenever you exercise or take part in vigorous physical activity. Whether you’re on foot, bike, or board, it is essential to stretch after you exercise. It creates balance and increases flexibility, and also gives your joints a better range of motion and your blood better circulation. Stretching is also a great tool for improving posture and reducing stress.
Even if you don’t exercise daily, it is recommended to stretch at least three times a week to maintain flexibility. And always stretch when you exercise. Keep in mind, when you stretch, take it easy and be gentle. Breathe normally while you hold every stretch – avoid holding your breath. Also, don’t bounce or hold a stretch if it hurts, though you should expect to feel tension. When tension becomes pain: stop.
Choose Your Weapon
There are many, many ways to get a solid workout that fulfills your body’s needs. Regular exercise is crucial in adding years to and improving the quality of your life. You’re actively reducing your risk of health problems while increasing your mood and strengthening your heart. Even if you get aerobic exercise in small increments, you are making a difference. Just a walk to the store or during your lunch break each day can provide amazing results in the long run.
Whether you think of it as 30 minutes or more each day or a total of 150 minutes per week, carve the time out for the activity of your choice. Walking is easy, practical, and inexpensive. It is also safe for those who haven’t gotten any exercise for a while. Make sure you have the right footwear, and go anywhere you like. For those who want more excitement, there are an incredible number of activities to boost your circulation and have fun. Bike, run, swim, dance, get a job moving furniture (well maybe the last one isn’t so fun)… it’s up to you!
Strength training doesn’t mean you have to want big muscles, improving bone and muscle strength is something each of us can use. With muscle toning exercises, you can learn to use your body more efficiently and improve your balance, coordination, and posture. Some aerobic exercises incorporate enough strength training that if you practice them regularly (i.e. swimming and biking) you should consider working out the muscles that are not primarily used by that activity. Strength training can also be a short time investment. Doing a few sets per week (one set of strength exercises for major muscles groups 2-3 times weekly, according to the Mayo Clinic) should be effective.
You can build muscle strength with free weights at home or in a fitness center, or use other options like your own body weight, resistance tubing, and other available, affordable tools. Being cautious and pacing yourself, you may find great physical improvements in endurance and strength within a short time.
What you eat surrounding your physical activity of choice can can a big impact of how well you perform. We need energy to support the activity we’re about to do, and getting the right nutrients is very important. It is also crucial to know when to eat. Find out more about sports nutrition in the Eat Well section.
1. Mayo Clinic. Fitness Basics.