Getting and staying fit can be a big challenge for many of us. It can be hard to motivate ourselves to get up off the couch at times, never mind, stretch or take a walk. Research has shown the important benefits of exercise, which can slow or help prevent heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and loss of muscle mass, not to mention the mental health benefits. It is important to remember, that squeezing in two or three sessions of 15 or 20 minutes of activity is just as effective as doing a longer stretch all at once, as you gain the same health and disease fighting benefits.
The following are some easy tips, guidelines on how much or what type of exercise is recommended, and some of the benefits we gain by moving:
- Exercise not only improves your physical body, but it helps with mental health by increasing energy levels, and serotonin in the brain
- Elevates mood, keeps depression at bay, and melts away stress
- When you exercise, even for 15-30 minutes, it energizes you for the rest of the day
- When you improve strength and stamina, it helps you to accomplish everyday tasks easier, like carrying in groceries or climbing stairs
- Combine exercise with social time spend with family or friends by riding a bike, taking a hike, or playing an active sport together
- Exercise is the best medicine to ward off disease and prevent the aging process
- Exercise strengthens muscle, helps with flexibility and endurance
- Aerobic activity: Try for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week.
- Strength training: Perform strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. Aim to do a single set of each exercise, using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.
Moderate aerobic exercise includes activities such as brisk walking, swimming and mowing the lawn. Vigorous aerobic exercise includes activities such as running and aerobic dancing. Strength training can include use of weight machines, resistance tubing, resistance paddles in the water, or activities such as rock climbing.
SOURCES: WebMD; Department of Health and Human Services