Why Exercise May Be Even Better for You Than You Thought
Exercise is the Best Medicine
Is exercising on the list? I hope it is, and here’s why: There’s more evidence than ever that exercise is the best medicine. I mean that literally.
I recently read an article in Time magazine about the upcoming U.S. National Institutes of Health and the huge study they’re embarking on starting in 2017, in which they’ll try to learn exactly, down to a molecular level, how exercise changes and improves the body. The study will last six years and involve thousands of people, and it’s possible that once all the results are in, exercise could be prescribed, just like medicine is now.
There’s already a ton of research that shows exercise is good for you, and I’m sure you’ve heard it, too. It can improve everything from eye health to mental health to heart health to skin health to brain health, yet still, most of us aren’t getting enough.
These days, the recommendation is to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, and it’s easier than you think to get started (once you get the go ahead from your doctor, of course). Here’s how to do it:
Walking, y’all, walking.
This exercise is cheap, simple, and has the lowest quit rate of any exercise program. Buy yourself a pair of shoes that are comfortable and find a place to walk: A treadmill, a path around your house, a trail that’s close to your job. You don’t even have to walk for long periods of time if you don’t want to; try starting with 10 or 15 minute jaunts anytime you have a moment, even on your lunch break.
Anything that gets your heart rate up a bit will do.
Even though walking is really the simplest thing out there when it comes to exercise, if there’s something else you’ve enjoyed in the past, anything from swimming laps to taking a dance class to playing racquetball, do that. Anything that gets your heart rate up a bit will do. Again, you don’t even have to do it for long periods of time!
Don’t forget about strength training.
You don’t need a whole set of weights or a home gym to strength train, so throw that excuse out the window. You can do squats and lunges with just your bodyweight, you can do pushups on your knees, you can do planks for your core muscles. Search online for videos showing body weight exercises to get an idea of proper form and then get started.
Fun stuff you already like to do counts, too!
Do you like to garden? It can go toward your 150 minutes as long as you’re moving around and lifting or digging or doing something else moderately strenuous. Housework, too. Carrying loads of laundry up and down the stairs, vacuuming, sweeping, all that stuff that involves you standing up and moving around is exercise.
150 minutes a week of exercise breaks down to 30 minutes, 5 days a week or about 21 minutes every day. I sincerely believe that you can find 21 minutes in your day to move your body. This year, give yourself the gift of movement.
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