If you are like most people, you how important it is to exercise your body regularly. And yet, even knowing why we need to get moving, many still don’t! Now, I will admit that for a long time I was in the running to be queen of the couch potatoes. I did absolutely nothing in the form of exercise other than getting up to get some more chips and soda or maybe some ice cream or cookies. Going to the store to shop was the extent of my walking plan.
And unfortunately, that has become a very common problem in the US and around the world. According to the World Health Organization, almost one third of all adults in the world do not get enough daily activity to keep them healthy. In the US, 50% of women and 40% of men are not getting sufficient physical activity.
We are becoming a sedentary society, even though are bodies are not designed to live sedentary lifes. And technological advances have made it much easier for us to do just that! We spend far too much time in front of large screen televisions with remote controls. And the rest of the time we spend engulfed in our computers, mp3 players, cell phones and video games.
When I was a child we did not have video games and we were very active every day. We were outside in the backyard playing from the time we got home until we were forced to come in for homework, dinner or bedtime. Watching television was a treat (of course, we only really had 5 or 6 channels to choose from). We were riding bikes, building forts out of sheets in the basement, roller skating in the garage, playing tag or hide and seek. In the winter we ice skated and went sledding and had snowball fights, made snowmen and build snow forts.
Now, not only are adults sedentary, but kids are too. And we are all paying the price for spending too much time sitting!
Exercise has some very important benefits that we lose when we don’t get up and move regulary.
1. Reduction in disease. Instances of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and more increase in those who live sedentary lifestyles. We need that activity to keep our heart and other vital organs functioning properly.
2. Immune system booster. When you are physically active on a regular basis, you are less prone to getting colds, flu and other viruses. This is due to the fact that regular exercise stimulates the lymphatic system, which is one of the body’s garbage centers. Unlike the circulatory system that is moved by our heart, the lymphatic system does not have a “pump” to get it going. Only deep breathing and aerobic exercise can move the lymphatic fluid. Viruses, bacteria and other toxins are circulated in lymphatic fluid. If the fluid is not actively circulated so that these toxins can be flushed out, you will ultimately get sick.
3. Strengthening and toning muscle. Regular exercise also helps to strengthen your bones. It can also help to improve your posture and makes your body work more efficiently.
4. Stress reduction. Getting regular exercise releases endorphins which are the feel good chemicals of the brain. People who are moderately active (exercising 3-4 times a week for at least 30-40 minutes) are able to cope with stressful events more easily that those who are inactive. Exercise can also help those who suffer from mild depression. In other words, being active makes you feel good!
5. It gives you more energy. When you are active regularly, you will find that your energy levels increase significantly. This is partially due to the release of endorphins and also due to the increase in oxygen levels in the body. You will get rid of that tired, lethargic feeling and get a whole lot more accomplished.
6. Weight loss. Obesity is a huge problem in the US and regular exercise can help to keep your weight at a healthy level. This will also help you to avoid obesity related disease such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
So how much exercise should you get to keep yourself healthy? According to the Mayo Clinic, adults should get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week, such as taking your dog for a brisk walk, going for a bike ride, swimming laps or jogging each week.
You would need only 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week such as running or high impact aerobic dancing to get the amount of activity you need to keep yourself healthy.
It’s also recommended that you strength train at least two days a week to build or maintain muscle.
So, what do you do for exercise? The best bet to get you moving is to find exercises that you really enjoy, which will be great incentive for you to participate. Find something that resonates with you and that you feel good doing. The object is to get you off of the couch, away from the TV or the computer and moving your body. And trust me….you will be healthier for it!