Updated: Nov 27, 2020
It’s never too late or too early to get active.
We live in a high-tech world, and we have successfully engineered physical activity out of our lives. Think about how often you channel surf in an evening. Yikes, can you imagine having to get up and change the channel that many times? It would certainly take the enjoyment out of the relaxing experience of watching television. In many ways, life's conveniences have made our lives more comfortable, and we don’t give it much thought. I am sure we don’t want to give up our modern-day conveniences, yet there is a cost, and it might be our health. So how do we make a mindful decision to move more? There is a tremendous amount of research that supports the value of getting active, the benefits are plentiful, and they can improve us on every level. I have often said if we could bottle the benefits of physical activity and give it out to people regularly, the world would be a- healthier- place.
There are a plethora of reasons for incorporating physical activity into your lifestyle. You have probably heard many of them, so I will only hit on the highlights.
7 great reasons for being more physically active
Moving more can be the start of increasing your physical fitness. The concept of Physical fitness is quite broad as it includes muscle strength, muscle endurance, flexibility and aerobic fitness. For this blog, we will focus on general physical activity that can increase aerobic fitness.
Many studies have proven that even low levels of physical activity can benefit cardiovascular health. Moderate physical activity levels can increase your HDL, the good cholesterol improving the ratio of total cholesterol. The largest gain is with people who go from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one. Walking daily for approximately 30 minutes can increase protection against cardiovascular disease, especially for older people.
A sedentary lifestyle does not help you burn calories. Physical activity can help you burn calories contributing to weight control. Regular bouts of physical activity increase your metabolic rate. The rate at which the body metabolizes calories, excellent news for people wanting to quit smoking with a fear of weight gain. As a smoker, your metabolic rate is high, and it drops when you quit smoking. Incorporating a minimum of 30 minutes of daily walking can help bolster your metabolic rate, lowering the risk of gaining weight during the quitting process. Woo hoo, walk on, my friend!
Obesity is a factor in type 2 diabetes. Given that exercise is an established means of regulating or controlling weight. It supports that physical activity could be a powerful weapon in the control of diabetes.
Health care workers have long prescribed physical activity as protection against bone density loss. Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by reduced bone density due to calcium loss resulting in brittle bones. Moderate to high-intensity exercises such as running, jumping, walking, Tai Chi and even dancing can support bone health.
You can’t talk about the benefits of physical activity without mentioning the powerful psychological benefits. These benefits are not overlooked by those seeking and enjoying the advantages it brings to their day-to-day lives. A defence against depression, a decrease of anxiety and a buffer against stress are all worth mentioning. When it comes to dealing with anxiety, exercise may provide an outlet (a change of pace) and an opportunity to escape from the daily grind or one’s troubles. This positive change of pace could also increase serotonin, known as the feel-good chemical, related to improved positive mood. Taking part in physical activity helps burn off the stress hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol levels increase during stressful situations. Exercise also reduces tension in your body, leaving you more relaxed, calmer and more centred. You can enhance these benefits by focusing your attention on your body sensations and being mindful of coordinating your breathing with your movements. It is true when they say relax your body, and your mind will follow.
I have been witness to several people trying to quit smoking. Over the years, I have recognized the value and supported the implementation of a walking regime. As we can see, there are many benefits to moving more and adopting an active lifestyle. There is one benefit that sores to the top of my list for getting physically active. Making a significant lifestyle change, such as quitting smoking, is challenging, and we all know that. I have seen success rates notably increase when people get active. People start to notice tangible changes in their bodies, changes they may have missed if they remained sedentary. Experiencing the changes increases motivation and increases the resolve to stay smoke-free. It is a snowball effect and gives validation for their efforts.
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