The human body is designed to move, yet modern lifestyles don’t require or sometimes even allow for enough movement to stay healthy. Regular exercise raises metabolism and makes it easier to reach and maintain a healthy weight. But, regular exercise goes beyond body weight, to have a positive impact on every cell and organ in the body.
Exercise – What’s in it for You?
Looking at the immediate and long-term benefits to regular exercise, it’s clear that making time for exercise should be a priority. So just what are those benefits? Take a look:
- Increased energy–the cardiovascular system is stronger and more efficient at getting oxygen and nutrients to the cells that need them. It takes less effort for you to do things you need to do, leaving more energy for the things you want to do.
- Muscles are stronger resulting in greater strength, less risk of injury or back pain, and improved coordination and balance.
- Easier to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
- Improved brain function as blood and oxygen flow improves. New brain cells are generated that boost concentration and cognitive ability. The risk of brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, are reduced.
- Greater immune function, which means less likelihood of illness.
- Increased lifespan—more years to enjoy life and family.
- Lower risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
- Stronger bones and less risk of osteoarthritis.
- Improved mood, mental health and general sense of well-being.
- Better sleep—which in turn can reduce weight and improve overall health.
- Lower stress levels.
- Slower aging.
How Much Exercise?
Exercise does not have to be walking on a treadmill at your local gym—although when you multi-task, this isn’t a bad way to go—more on that later. Any activity that gets you moving and your heart rate up is good for you. Find something you enjoy, like dance class, cardio drumming, cycling, outdoor walking, or kick-boxing.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends:
- Moderate-intensity cardio for 150 minutes each week.
This includes any exercise that increases the heart rate, such as, walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, dancing, or Zumba.
These recommendations can be met with 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five times a week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three times a week) or a combination the two. Exercise can be done all at once or broken down into shorter sessions of 10 minutes or more. It’s important to start slowly and build endurance.
- Strength training 2-3 times a week.
Strength training works the body’s muscle groups and builds muscle. It’s a good idea to use a variety of exercises and equipment to get the best results. Start with lighter weights and see how quickly you’re able to add more. Skip a day between training sessions to allow muscles to repair and recover.
How to Fit Exercise into Your Day
Your day is packed—work, kids, household chores, and family obligations. You understand how important exercise is. Without it, it is only a matter of time before your body begins to malfunction. But, how are you going to squeeze it in? Here are 12 easy, yet powerful, ways to squeeze exercise into your daily routine.
- Park farther away. Walking into a store or your office from the far end of the parking lot can boost your heart rate. If you live close enough—give up the car altogether and walk or bike instead.
- Have a sitting job? Make efforts to stand more often, take mini walks, or do 3 minutes of exercise (leg lifts or squats—or bring in a set of dumbbells) each hour. Can you work at a standing desk? After just 2 hours of sitting, metabolism slows by 25-50%, blood sugar levels increase, good cholesterol decreases and circulation slows. Use your lunchtime to take a walk or to work out right at your desk.
- Schedule it into your day. Exercise deserves a priority status—after all it is an investment in your health and well-being. Put it on the calendar and treat it as an important appointment.
- Get up a little earlier. Morning exercise rocks–start your day more energized and focused.
- Multi-task. Walk with a friend to socialize and exercise at the same time. Watch a TV show, inspirational video, or educational clip as you cycle or walk on a treadmill.
- Use a fitness app for structured exercises that can be adapted to the time, space and equipment you have available.
- Watching TV? Walk in place during the show or bust out some sit-ups and squats during the commercials.
- Sign up for a charity 5K with a buddy. Once you have the date on your calendar, the training begins. With a goal ahead of you and a friend by your side, it’s easier to stay motivated.
- Tracking exercise helps to motivate (Wow, I’m up to 20 squats!), measure progress, and keep you on track.
- Sometimes you need to choose something over nothing. If you cannot get your full workout in, do what you can. Short spurts of effort can really add up. It is all about the habit. When there is a time carved out for exercise, use it. That way, the habit stays in place, even if the workout isn’t an all-out effort.
- When you need to communicate, make a phone call instead of sending a text or email. Get up and walk around the block, or pace while talking on the phone.
- Turn up the tunes and turn household chores into a workout session. Sweep faster, scrub harder, add in some bicep curls between chores and you’ll be working up a sweat in no time.
We are all busy, but the time invested in regular exercise pays off with more energy and motivation to get the “have to dos” and the “want to dos” in our lives done. The health benefits are unbeatable and lead to a much higher quality of life now and for years down the road. Find your own individual ways to squeeze in time for exercise—you’ll be glad you did.
Frozen Strawberry Cheesecake Pie
4 cups sliced strawberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon liquid sweetener
16 ounces light cream cheese, softened
1 cup Fairlife whole milk
2 teaspoons liquid sweetener
Place strawberries, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of liquid sweetener in blender and pulse until pureed. Pour have of the pureed strawberries into a covered bowl and refrigerate.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the strawberry puree remaining in the blender. Blend on high for 2 minutes. Pour into pie pan and freeze for 2 hours. Cover and freeze for an additional 2 hours or overnight.
Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes prior to slicing and serving. Drizzle refrigerated strawberry puree on pie as serving. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 215 calories, 8 grams protein, 14 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrate, 299 mg sodium.
Superfood Frozen Treat
Adapted from Brianna-thomas.com
¾ c. crushed ice
¾ c. frozen diced okra
½ c. Fairlife skim milk
⅓ c. low-fat cottage cheese
1 T. cocoa powder
1/8 tsp. stevia sweetener
Dash of salt
½ tsp. glucomannan or xanthan gum (to thicken)
1 tsp. sugar-free chocolate chips
Blend all the ingredients except the chocolate chips together until smooth. Transfer to a freezer-safe bowl and freeze for 30 minutes, stirring twice. Let the ice cream thaw a bit to a softer consistency and top with sugar-free chocolate chips before eating. Makes 1 serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 153 calories, 15 grams protein, 4 grams fat, 15 grams carbohydrate, 306 mg sodium.