Being active through exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your health and wellbeing. That was one of the topics at the Obesity Action Coalition’s Your Weight Matters Convention & EXPO that took place last week.
In fact, the great philosopher Plato is quoted as saying,
“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”
Here are just some of the benefits of regular exercise:
- Better emotional health (reduced anxiety, depression, happier mood)
- Improved energy levels
- Improved cognition and focus
- Lower risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers
- Reduced cholesterol and blood pressure
- Improved insulin sensitivity and hyperglycemia
- Increased mobility and reduced risk of falls
- Better sleep (duration + quality)
- Better quality of life and more years added on!
Our Perceptions of Exercise
Sadly, many people tend to associate exercise with the end goal to lose weight. This can create an unhealthy relationship with exercise that discourages you from getting active.
Common statements and perceptions:
- “I’m too fat/disabled/old to exercise”
- “I didn’t sweat so my workout was pointless”
- “I’ll start exercising once I lose weight”
- “I must run to burn off that ice cream I ate”
- “I only have 15 minutes to exercise today, so there’s no point”
- “I’ll never look like him/her so why bother?”
Weight-loss and physical appearance are NOT good measures of success for exercise. Instead, you should consider the benefits of physical activity listed above that are focused on your overall health, not a number on the scale.
Exercise also doesn’t have to be something you dread doing. The best way to get regular physical activity is to do something you truly enjoy, as that increases the likelihood that you will stick to your goals. If you love being in nature, you might find great success with hiking or kayaking. If you enjoy moving to music, you might try aerobic dancing (like Zumba) or spin cycling at a local gym or fitness class.
Integrating Activity into Your Life
To make physical activity a regular part of your life and embrace the benefits to your health, try these few tips to get moving more often.
- Make movement goals that are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based).
- Schedule exercise into your day and treat it like a regular time commitment.
- Do something you truly enjoy.
- Tie it to another habit like listening to energizing music in the morning.
- Seek accountability from loved ones and professionals.
- Check your mindset. Is your relationship with exercise healthy?
- Assess your environment. Is it helping you stay active?
- Where can you add in more movement? Be creative!