Ever wondered how important exercise really is? Is it really important to carve out the time for exercise as opposed to other healthy activities such as making nutritious food or meditating?
While I’ve always believed that maintaining a healthy body weight is about 80% a result of diet and only 20% due to exercise, there are still a lot of great reasons to get out and participate in your favourite activities. Here are a few of my favourites:
Leisure-time physical activity is associated with a longer life in a review of six studies done by the National Cancer Institute. The findings showed that 150 min of brisk walking each week was associated with an average of 4 years longer life. That’s 30 min each weekday morning. This is doable for everyone!!
Reduces Risk of Chronic Disease
Physically active men and women have a reduced risk for many diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Exercise is also been shown to be beneficial and improve the quality of life for those who are undergoing cancer treatments.
Reduces Symptoms of Stress and Depression
While exercise is a physical stress on the body, it can be used to alleviate mental stress. How does it do this? Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as cortisol, and increases endorphins that elevate our mood.
Did you know that major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for people between ages 15 and 44 years? With this staggering statistic, it’s important to know that both high-intensity aerobic exercise and mindfulness exercises such as yoga have positive effects on symptoms of depression.
Supports Brain Function
Have you ever thought that your memory wasn’t what it used to be? I wrote about the nutritional factors that help your memory here. However, exercise is also an important part of reversing that decline! Exercise benefits the brain not only with improved memory function but is also associated with improved processing speed and creative thinking.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier
What Is the Best Exercise to Do?
One that you enjoy and will participate in consistently!! Ideas range from team sports to fitness classes to weightlifting to yoga. However, you don’t need to get a gym membership or spend a lot of money to get plenty of exercise. Free ideas include: walking in your neighbourhood, yard work and maximizing “non-exercise” movement such as taking the stairs.
Getting a support system such as a friend or group can help make the transition from sedentary to active and easy and enjoyable one. And of course, combine your exercise program with a healthy eating plan. Grab an easy to implement, 5-day plan here.