“There is no pill that comes close to what exercise can do, and if there was one, it would be extremely expensive.”
Claude Bouchard, director of the human genomics laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center
The Coronavirus pandemic has contributed to millions of us spending more than at home than usual. I have not been as active as my body needs, and there has been a negative difference. I’m sitting here today thinking about adding activities to be more active. I’ve been reading about the latest science of exercise. Did you know that exercise can have a positive effect on your life in many ways? According to Time magazine’s The New Science of Exercise, only 20% of Americans get the recommended 150 minutes of strength and cardiovascular physical activity per week, more than half of all baby boomers report doing no exercise whatsoever, and 80.2 million Americans over age 6 are entirely inactive. It seems exercise is really medicine – great medicine better than any pill. Let’s look at some of the most significant benefits of exercise and some tips to get you started.
Mind and brain
We often think about the physical health benefits of exercise, but the truth is that working out can be equally beneficial for your mind and brain. Scientists don’t know exactly why exercise changes the structure and function of the brain, but it’s an area of active research. So far, they’ve found that exercise improves blood flow to the brain, feeding the growth of new blood vessels and even new brain cells. It is suggested it can also prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. That my friends is outstanding news.
At a time when some people are more anxious than normal, and we’re spending a lot of time doing the same things in the same limited number of places, workouts can help to ease anxiety, lift the mood and increase energy levels. Exercise has been shown to improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. If you’re used to sitting at a desk for eight hours a day, break the afternoon up or start the day with a burst of activity. From yoga and Pilates classes you can join online to going for a jog or a bike ride or doing aerobics or a dance workout in your living room, there are plenty of ways to move your body. When you’re active, your body releases endorphins, and elevated levels of chemicals in your brain, including dopamine and serotonin, make you feel good. Regular exercise will help you sleep and it can make a huge difference to stress levels. It can also be a cathartic release if you’re having a tough day at work or you need some time away from your desk.
One of the most significant benefits of an active lifestyle is improved cardiovascular health. Inactivity puts you at risk of heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure. If you work out frequently, or you go for a long walk, a run or a cycle most days, you should find that your resting heart rate falls and that your blood pressure stabilizes. Exercise improves circulation, ensuring that every part of the body receives oxygen and the nutrients it needs to function properly. If you are prone to problems with your circulation, or you’ve taken up running or hiking, it’s worth looking into buying compression socks to ease pain, prevent swelling and provide comfort. Exercise goes a long way to protecting the cardiovascular system, but it should be combined with healthy eating and avoiding drinking and smoking.
Conditioning the body
We often hear health experts say that ‘prevention is better than cure.’ Exercise is a natural means of lowering the risk of health issues and injuries. Physical activity increases strength, stamina, mobility and flexibility, and it plays an important role in conditioning the body and helping you steer clear of pulls, tears, strains and pain. It’s essential to warm up and cool down if you are exercising. Combine stretching with gentle cardio exercises to bring the heart rate up and prepare the muscles for work. After your session, stretch every part of the body fully and lower your heart rate gradually to prevent lactic acid build-up and a sudden drop in blood pressure.
We may be spending more time at home, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be restricted to a desk or a couch. Why not use your free time as an opportunity to embrace the benefits of a more active lifestyle? As areas open up and restrictions are lifted, put on a mask and go for a walk, bike ride, or run. I still feel you need a mask and must practice caution in your activities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and have fun. Remember nature is healing and exercising outside is a double boost. For those who enjoy camping, pitch a tent and wake up to a sunrise. Enjoy the sun and move your body.
This is a collaborative post but all opinons are my own.
Get exclusive free printables & all the news straight to your mailbox!
Please see my Link Parties page for the parties where this post was shared.