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Why Do I Need to Exercise Anyway?

As a Personal Trainer, I get asked this question all of the time..."Why do I need to exercise? How is it really benefitting me?" I know the word "exercise" can be a scary word to many people. The thought of moving your body and strengthening your muscles can seem a little overwhelming at times. And when we don't see results right away, we tend to give up. You see, we live in a world that provides us with whatever we need usually with just a touch of the hand. Hungry? Door Dash will deliver to me in less than an hour. Need a new toothbrush? No problem...Amazon will deliver same day in some cases. Most of our needs can be satisfied within minutes or within a very short amount of time. Unfortunately, getting healthy doesn't work that way. You can't go for a walk, lift weights for a few days and then expect to lose that extra 10 pounds just like that. Exercise requires patience and hard work, but I promise you the long term benefits far more outweigh any hesitation or reserve you might have.

In fact, there is a lot of evidence that supports the benefits of physical activity. Here are a few:

-reduced risk of cancer

-brain health benefits including possible improved cognitive function, reduced anxiety and depression risk, and improved sleep and quality of life

-in older aldults there is a reduced risk of fall-related injuries

-in pregnant women there is a reduced risk of excessive weight gain and postpartum depression

-AND...there is improved cognitive function in youth ages 6-13

Let's dive into some of these examples a little deeper. Aerobic exercise like running or walking can increase the size of the hippocampus and preserve vital brain matter. This helps to improve spatial memory and cognitive function. Both important things to try to maintain especially as we get older. Need another reason to start a new health journey? You know how you feel when you get a good night's sleep vs. a bad night's sleep? Regular physical activity has proven to enhance sleep quality which in turn supports memory consolidation and toxin removal in the brain. Try to aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Lastly, exercise helps to manage stress by increasing norepinephrine and endorphin levels. These are chemicals that moderate the brain's response to stress and induce feelings of happiness. Wow! I'm ready to get moving after learning all of these amazing benefits! How about you?

But how do I start exercising so that I can start improving my health and gain all of these great benefits? That is a great question and one I can easily answer. Adults need a mix of physical activity to stay healthy. In order to start benefitting from exercise, it is recommended to start doing activities that make your muscles work a little harder (i.e. strength training) at least 2 days a week for 30 minutes a day. Adults 65+ should also add in balance activities at least 3 days a week as well. Mixed with strength training, adults are also recommended to do some kind of aerobic activity at least 150 minutes a week. That only equates to 30 minutes a day/5days a week. This can include anything that gets your heart beating faster, like walking, for example. If this seems too much right now, start with 5 minutes of some kind of movement everyday and increase the time as you start to feel stronger and more comfortable. Some kind of movement is better than none!

This all sounds great, but what can I DO to meet these recommendations? Here are some great suggestions:

1.Turn up your favorite music at home and dance! Just get up and move to the beat and have a little fun!

2. Take active breaks--squat or march in place during commercials....walk to the end of the driveway and back....sit a lot for work? get up and stretch for 5 minutes every 30 minutes....stand on one leg to improve balance while brushing your teeth

3. Add physical activity to your daily routine--park at the back of the parking lot and walk when shopping....use stairs instead of the elevator

4. Walk the dog or just get out and walk!

Still don't feel comfortable starting this new journey on your own? I am a Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach and am more than happty to support and guide you on your new journey. Check out my website I offer one-on-one and small group training in-home or online. I can't wait to help you get stronger and feel better!

Source: Neuroscience News

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