January 18, 2016

by Mankato Clinic

We hear it all the time: exercise is good for you. However, it can be hard to get moving and start exercising, but once you get going, you’ll find it pays off to be active.

A startling study from the American Heart Association has found that people who don’t exercise regularly are almost twice as likely to get heart disease as people who are active. The health benefits of exercise, even a brisk 30 minute walk, are hard to ignore and the benefits are yours if you want them. Exercise not only helps you feel great, but did you know that it burns calories, lowers your blood pressure and reduces your LDL (bad) cholesterol while boosting your HDL (good) cholesterol?

Physicians suggest at least 30 minutes of moderate, intensive exercise five times a week. Is going to the gym not appealing to you? No problem! Try walking, running, lifting weights at home, yoga, biking, swimming, skiing or cross country skiing to name a few.

When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. Thus, the more intense the activity, the more calories you will burn. Even if you can’t do a full workout, be more active throughout the day by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away at work and finding a few moments each day when you can walk briskly. After all, our bodies were meant to keep moving.

Once you start getting more exercise, you may notice your waist-line shrinking, but chances are you’ll also notice your mood improving. That’s because physical activity stimulates multiple brain chemicals, like endorphins, which are released when you exercise. After working out, you may find that you feel less stressed and have a higher self-esteem than before you started.

It can be overwhelming to begin an exercise routine, but don’t let that stop you. A little bit each day will help you feel better than the previous day. In no time at all you’ll be surprised by what you’ve been able to accomplish simply my moving your body.

There are many different movements you can do for exercise, but each plan should include the following activities:

  • Aerobic exercise (cardio): running, jogging and biking are some examples that will help get you moving fast enough to breathe harder and raise your heart rate. While doing cardio, you should still be able to speak to someone; otherwise, you are pushing yourself too hard. Other cardio exercises that have less impact on your joints are swimming and hiking.
  • Stretching: Stretching before and after exercising will leave you more flexible. Make sure to stretch gently as it shouldn’t hurt.
  • Strength training: Use weights, resistance bands or your own body weight (like yoga) 2-3 times a week. Let your muscles recover for a day between sessions so you don’t strain yourself.