So many of my clients ask me "is there a magic pill I can take to help me feel better?" I tell them "yes, and that magic pill is exercise." Exercise can truly cure a multiple of sins and overindulgences. Besides making you feel good and lifting your mood, exercise does some amazing things in the body such as:
- Reducing your risk of getting heart disease, high blood pressure, and adult diabetes
- Improves the functioning of your immune system
- Helps you more effectively manage stress, and decrease anxiety
- Helps strengthen your bones and prevent osteoporosis
- Increases the good HDL cholesterol
- Helps you sleep easier and better by increasing REM (or deep) sleep
- Helps you lose weight by increasing metabolism and decreasing insulin resistance
- Increases self-esteem
These benefits are but a few of the hundreds of ways exercise can benefit you. However, exercise is more than what one of my clients refers to as "the executive workout" - i.e. going to the gym for a steam and shower. Sometimes starting an exercise program can be difficult due to unreasonable expectations. People tend to try to do too much too soon, become injured, and then cannot exercise for some time, only to repeat the process again.
Part of overcoming the obstacles to exercise are finding an activity that you find enjoyable and varying it enough to keep it interesting. Look for opportunities to include activity in your life such as walking to and from errands, taking the stairs, etc. Every little thing you do does add up and can improve your likelihood of losing weight and improving your health.
A combination of aerobic and strength training is ideal for most individuals. Aerobic activity 4 or more times per week improves cardiac function and is essential for fat metabolism. Strength training two or three times per week can assist in increasing one's metabolism, protect against muscle and bone loss during weight loss, and increase strength and muscle tone.
Copyright 2010 Susan B. Dopart, M.S., R.D.