Finding Fitness that Fits You
Would you like to feel stronger, more energetic, and happier? If so, research indicates that daily exercise may be the key. The physical benefits of regular exercise are well known. Exercise can stimulate weight loss, lower blood pressure levels, and decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, several types of cancers, and much more. Yet, the psychological benefits associated with regular physical activity are just as extensive. Exercise can help to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can improve focus, memory, and learning. For some, it’s a highly effective way to reduce and control ADHD symptoms. A mere five minutes of physical activity is enough to significantly boost mood. Exercise can significantly improve sleep quality. Did you know it might also help you to age more slowly?
How much exercise do you really need?
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults devote at least 150 minutes a week (or about 20 minutes per day) to aerobic activities that are at least moderate in intensity. Strength training for all major muscle groups at least twice a week is also recommended. So, how many Americans over the age of 18 are active enough to meet these guidelines? According to the CDC, only 53.3% of us get enough aerobic exercise. Even worse, only 23.2% of us meet these guidelines for both aerobic exercise and strength training.
If you find that you’re falling short of meeting these guidelines, recent research indicates that getting even half of this recommended amount of physical activity could be beneficial—and, actually, lifesaving. Results show that if adults over 40 were to add just 10 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity to their daily routines, more than 110,000 deaths could be prevented each year.
Not sure how to get started?
There are countless ways to add more movement to your day. The most important thing is to simply move more and sit less. Why not try starting each morning with some gentle yoga poses to help ease you into the new day? Or plan to take a brisk walk with a friend each afternoon and catch up as you log your miles together. Does doing a quick HIIT workout to the beat of your favorite rock anthem sound like fun? Or maybe you love dancing the night away…
Focus on finding activities that not only get you moving but that also bring you joy. Think of how you move when you’re feeling joyful. Think of reaching your arms up, swaying from side to side at a concert, bouncing to a beat, or spinning with your arms outstretched while dancing. Interestingly, research indicates that these physical movements not only express feelings of joy; they also elicit them. So, find ways to reach, sway, bounce, shake, and jump for joy in your new fitness routines; you’ll not only raise your heart rate but also your spirits.
Tips for starting a new fitness routine:
- Break large goals down into achievable steps.
- Create simple, specific, short-term goals.
- Record your progress.
- Reward yourself when you meet your goals.
- Always be willing to try something new.
Workouts That Work
Think you know what the benefits of daily walking are?
We all know that going for a walk and getting some fresh air is a great way to clear our minds and improve our moods. As it turns out, these benefits are only the beginning. A recent review by Harvard Medical School reports that walking for 2.5 hours a week, or 21 minutes per day, reduces the risk of heart disease by 30%. This simple act of going for a daily walk has also been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer; lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels; and decrease symptoms of depression. Time to find your walking shoes…
Could Pilates be perfect for you?
This low-impact, mind-body exercise method offers significant benefits for complete beginners and advanced athletes alike. Unlike anything you may have tried in a typical weight room or cardio class, the focus here is on aligning the body and creating strength through muscular rebalancing. It targets small, deep, and often underutilized muscles. This results in improved posture, core strength, flexibility, and balance. It’s also associated with notable decreases in back pain and is often used for rehabilitative purposes.
Could you use a stress-busting HIIT workout?
With High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), you may be able to cut your cardio time in half. These stress-busting workouts include multiple rounds of high-intensity exercises that increase your heart rate to 80% of its maximum, followed by shorter periods of lower-intensity movements. Create a playlist of your favorite upbeat songs to help set the tempo. Body weight is often the main form of resistance. Exercises may include any form of lunges, step-ups, or burpees. Outdoor HIIT workouts might include sprinting or swimming. These short bursts of intensity allow you to get greater benefits in less time, burn off some steam, and have fun while you’re at it.