Spring is here, the weather is getting nicer all the time! It’s a time of year when many of us resolve to turn over a new leaf with plans for outdoor activities, and generally becoming more active than we might have been in the winter. Physical activity is another very important component of good health – both for maintaining our health and preventing disease.
Together with a healthy, balanced diet, good hydration and adequate sleep, physical activity is an extremely important part of staying (or becoming) healthy and fit. Physical activity benefits all aspects of our health, even mental health and the functioning of our brains. Physical activity is a life-long commitment to good health, not just a temporary ‘fix’ to lose a few pounds before bathing suit season. Being sedentary is as big a risk to our health as smoking. It’s never too late to improve your physical fitness even if you’ve never exercised or have chronic health problems. Of course if you do have health problems, you should involve an expert in planning your activities and monitoring your progress. Don’t worry if you’re overweight – any form of exercise will benefit you, particularly your heart health.
The benefits of physical activity include:
- improved physical fitness
- easier weight control
- better mental health, less tendency toward depression
- better mood
- clearer thought
- more energy
- better balance, prevention of falls
- better muscle tone
- reduced problems with arthritis
- less risk of osteoporosis
- better cardiovascular health – less risk of heart disease and stroke
- protection for aging eyes
- reduced risk of several types of cancer
- reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
- reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia
- better sleep
- stay younger at the cellular level
- longer, healthier life.
Any physical activity is better than none, so if you get a little bit of exercise, don’t be discouraged – it is definitely helping you. However, if that’s the case, it would be a good idea to plan how to fit more exercise into your life. Recent American guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be done for at least 10 minutes at a time, several times during the week. You also need to do muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days per week. I’ll offer some tips for fitting exercise into your daily routine even though you are already very busy. Remember that, as you become more fit, exercise energizes you, it does not tire you out! So as you become fitter, you will easily be able to do more. You will sleep better (which will also help to energize you) and your stamina will improve. Varied physical activity is good for your brain! It has been shown that greater variety in physical activities was even more important than the quantity of activity for maintaining good cognitive function in older adults, and reducing the risk of dementia.
- Add walks by parking or getting off the bus farther from your destination
- At the grocery store, walk around the entire store before you begin to shop, making a note of specials and things you need
- Take a walk at noon, either after lunch or to lunch
- Wear a pedometer. People who do, tend to walk more. Aim for 10,000 steps a day
- Vacuuming, raking and sweeping all involve both arm and leg muscles – do 10 minutes of each per day and you have half an hour of exercise
- Dancing is excellent exercise and fun too!
- Don’t just sit there while you watch TV. Jog lightly in place or do floor exercises on a yoga mat. Put your stationary bike or treadmill in front of the TV, and use them
- Gardening and other yardwork are pleasant forms of exercise
- Walk the dog (or the neighbour’s dog) – you’ll both benefit
- Pick activities you enjoy. You’ll look forward to them
- Reward yourself with something right after you exercise such as a favourite TV program, time to read the paper, or soak in a luxurious bath
- Set realistic goals, and set yourself up for success
- Make it convenient. You’re more likely to stick with an exercise plan that’s easy, accessible and hassle-free
- Variety is the spice of life. Have a few different activities to choose from, depending on your mood, the weather, whatever. Don’t settle for activities that bore you
- Keep track of your progress. Keep a journal of your schedule, and what you’ve accomplished
- Stick with it for at least 6 months and you’re more likely to keep on long-term
- Consider a trainer. A personal trainer or fitness coach can customize a program to your goals and needs, and make sure you’re safe during workouts
I hope by now that you’re convinced of the benefits of physical activity! It’s really not optional for a healthy life, and happily, once you get used to making it part of your life, you’ll realize how much better it makes you feel, and you won’t want to be without it Honest! For additional information, please email email@example.com; or call Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic at 613.829.0427 for an appointment. Please continue sharing our newsletters with friends and family. In a word,
As mentioned, caffeinated drinks cause dehydration. Soft drinks or sodas have added sugars or artificial sweeteners that are unhealthy. In particular, colas, the most commonly consumed soft drink, contain phosphoric acid which has been linked with increased risk of osteoporosis in women. One glass of fruit juice a day is recommended which does not contribute much toward your daily total. Commercially prepared vegetable juices usually contain a lot of salt, not a healthy option.
The suggestions and recommendations in this newsletter are not intended to be prescriptive or diagnostic. The information is accurate and up to date to our knowledge, but we are not responsible for any errors in our sources of information.
- Exercise helps your heart even if you don’t lose weight. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2008;25(11):1-2.
- Exercise may keep arthritis from triggering decline. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2005;23(5):1-2.
- Physical activity may help protect aging eyes. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2007;24(9):8.
- Deep down, exercise helps keep you young. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2010;28(2):4.
- Varied physical activity linked to reduced dementia risk. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2005;23(5):8.
- 9 easy ways to add exercise to every day. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2006;24(6):4-5.
These newsletters will help you make better choices for better health. The choices that you make today can either have a positive or negative impact on your overall health. Begin by choosing better. It is a step toward longevity.
Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic