The health benefits of exercise are numerous and yet many people have still not made it a priority.
When you decide to do something, it's likely because you have a good reason to do it. Whether it's showing up at work for a pay check or scheduling a doctor appointment for a sick child, we do the things that we deem important. Then there are other things we know we should do, but still don’t. For many, exercise usually falls into this category.
So how do we go about making exercise a priority? Making the time for it is one challenge, but making the decision that physical activity is a priority is the first step. Take a moment to answer the following questions to determine whether exercise is right for you.
- Do you feel that you manage your stress in a healthy way?
- Do you sleep soundly and wake feeling rested and refreshed?
- Do you have the energy and physical stamina to do everything you want and need to do?
If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, you would likely benefit from engaging in some form of physical activity.
We all experience stress and while there are numerous unhealthy ways to cope, physical activity is one healthy way to decrease your stress level. When you start to exercise, your brain begins to release feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which helps counter feelings of anxiety and stress. Focusing on moving our body provides a much-needed distraction from whatever is bothering us, and that feeling lasts even after we have finished exercising.
Engaging in regular physical activity also helps our sleep quality. A recent study published in the journal of Mental Health and Physical Activity found that people reported better sleep and feeling more alert during the day if they got at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. People also said they felt less sleepy during the day, compared to those who had less physical activity.
Have you ever gotten winded walking up a flight of stairs? Do you feel that sometimes you don’t have the energy to some of the things you want to do? Exercise strengthens our muscles and bones and makes us more flexible. When we engage in a balanced physical activity routine, we are simultaneously strengthening our heart, building stronger muscles and increasing our flexibility. Not all types of exercise do the same thing, so it is important to do a variety of different things to maximize the benefits.
If you are not sure where to start, simply stand up and go for a walk at least twice a day for 15 minutes. Thirty minutes daily is recommended by the American Heart Association for general heart health, It’s relatively easy to carve out 15 minutes from somewhere in your day, even if it means getting up a little earlier or taking 15 minutes out of your lunch break. Grab a friend, co-worker, your spouse or your dog and make it a daily habit.
So whether you want to lower your stress level, improve your sleep or increase your stamina, anyone can benefit from getting more active. It starts with making the decision to prioritize your health so you can continue to do the things you love.