While many people start an exercise routine to lose weight, exercise also helps to fight various diseases. Whether you want to lose weight or reap the benefits of a healthier body, regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
Studies show regular moderate exercise has a positive effect on cancer, heart disease, dementia, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, obesity and high blood pressure. Regular moderate exercise also slows the rate of aging: people who participate in regular aerobic exercise tend to live longer than those who don’t exercise regularly.
When you exercise, you decrease your risk of chronic disease and disability, and you become more fit, trim, mobile and even happier. Regardless of your age, weight or athletic ability, aerobic exercise is good for you.
During aerobic walking, you repeatedly move large muscles in your arms, legs and hips. You breathe faster and more deeply, the oxygen in your blood increases and your heart beats faster. This increases the blood flow from your lungs to your muscles and back to your lungs. Your small blood vessels (capillaries) widen to deliver more oxygen to your muscles and carry away waste products such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Your body also releases endorphins, natural painkillers that promote an increased sense of well-being.
When you begin walking, start slowly. You might walk five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening. The next day, add a few minutes to each walking session. Gradually, pick up your pace, and before you know it you will be walking briskly 30 minutes a day and reaping the benefits. The more you walk, the more you will want to walk and the better you will feel.
Does the thought of exercising make you moan and groan? No worries! Remember that exercising can be fun, that your heart loves exercise, and that you can feel the benefits of aerobic activity in as little as 20 minutes a day. Also, by simply walking regularly or doing some other form of moderate exercise daily, you can cut your risk of heart disease by as much as 30% to 50%.
Of course, remember to check with your medical professional first if you have a medical condition or have never exercised.
Research is mounting that hours of sitting is its own health-risk factor. Sitting still for too long can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease by over 100% – even if you do the recommended amount of daily moderate to vigorous exercise!
Sitting in front of a computer or TV for two hours daily can double your risk of a heart attack, while four hours daily can increase your risk of death from any cause by 50%.
The American Cancer Society’s study of more than 100,000 healthy people tracked since 1992 found that women who sat for more than six hours during their leisure time each day had a 37% greater chance of death than women who sat for three hours or less.
Likewise, the British Journal of Sports Medicine says: “Recent observational studies have suggested that prolonged bouts of sitting time and lack of whole-body muscular movement are strongly associated with obesity, abnormal glucose metabolism, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease risk and cancer, as well as total mortality independent of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity.”
What can you do if you sit for prolonged hours every day? Take two-minute walking breaks every 20 minutes. Your back will also thank you.
Could your exercise routine be making you fat? The simple answer is yes. It is common for many people to gain weight when they start to exercise. Here’s why:
1. You may overestimate the number of calories burned during exercise.
2. You may feel you deserve a treat for exercising.
3. You may exercise too strenuously, causing the body to produce excess cortisol which causes weight gain, especially around the mid section.
4. Exercising can make you hungry so keep only healthy snacks on hand.
5. Make sure your main food choices consist of lots of vegetables plus fruit, nuts, seeds, whole grains, healthy fats, lean protein, organic milk products and water for hydration.
The small things you do throughout the day can burn more calories than your single programmed exercise session. It all adds up!
Whether you are an elite athlete, recreational player or weekend warrior, hydration plays a significant role. The human body is approximately 70% water: being just a little dehydrated can affect your ability to exercise and cause serious complications.
The primary cause of dehydration is sweat. When muscles don’t have adequate fluid, they become thick and tight. Without an adequate supply of water, the body will lack energy and muscles may develop cramps. Water also functions as a lubricant to allow adequate movement and increased overall function.
Dehydration leads to muscle fatigue and loss of co-ordination. Adequate hydration is also important for temperature regulation: when dehydrated, the body is unable to cool itself efficiently.
Dehydration also adversely affects mental performance. Symptoms of mild dehydration include light-headedness, dizziness, tiredness, irritability, headache and reduced concentration. Drink water before, during and after you exercise, and if you will be out longer than one hour take water with you.
Normal walking utilizes muscles in the lower half of the body, while pole walking is a whole-body activity that uses muscles in the back, arms, shoulders and neck. Studies show Nordic pole walking uses 90% of muscles.
Clinical studies show the many benefits of pole walking, for everyone, and especially among seniors. Walking with poles contributes to faster weight loss, increased heart and cardiovascular health, and improved posture. Nordic pole walking also benefits those recovering from knee or hip surgery: walking with poles takes 30% of the stress and impact off knee joints and hips, and allows the burning of up to 46% more calories per minute.
Research shows that, no matter your age, you stand to gain significant improvements in strength, range of motion, balance, bone density and mental clarity through exercise. Regular exercise is as important to your well-being as eating, sleeping and breathing. So let’s get moving!
• Helps normalize insulin levels and stabilize blood sugar levels
• Normalizes the hormone that delivers satiety and decreases cravings
• Improves brain power
• Helps lower blood pressure
• Has a positive effect on pain management
• Decreases risk of heart disease
• Keeps arteries clear
• Decreases risk of cancer
• Has a positive effect on sleep
• Helps fight depression
• Helps build strong bones to reduce risk of osteoporosis
• Combined with a healthy diet, aerobic exercise helps people
lose weight – and keep it off
• Increases energy levels
• Strengthens the heart
• Lowers risk of diabetes 2 and helps reverse pre-diabetes
• Slows the aging process
• Improves stamina and reduces fatigue
• Boosts the immune system, the first line of defense against everything from the common cold to cancer
• Helps build self-esteem and improves body image
• Walk down the hall to talk to a co-worker instead of emailing or texting
• Stand up or tap your foot while talking on the phone
• Use grocery bags as weights to work those biceps
• Walk around instead of standing still
• Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator
• Park in the furthest space
• Go for a walk every morning – alone, with a friend or with the dog –- regardless of the weather
• Turn household chores into a workout
• Mix your activities to allow all muscles a chance to move and grow