Exercise is a part of any healthy person’s lifestyle. There are many benefits to exercising and eating right, including staying toned and fit. This includes keeping your insides healthy like your heart, kidneys, and other organs; and keeping your energy and immune system up and functioning properly. How much you exercise and what forms or exercise you do may depend on your own fitness level and goals. So why should everyone move more? How do you stay motivated to work out? Is exercising or what you eat more important to your overall health goals? What happens if you do not work out or exercise for extended periods of time? What exercises are best for you? Let’s take a further look into these very common but important questions.
A Lifestyle Change
We have all heard it before. Being healthy is a lifestyle change. It is not a diet or fad. The evidence proving the health benefits of an active lifestyle is surmounting. Even moving a little more each day can add up to a big health change. Wherever you are starting is not where you are ending when you are determined to make the changes to better yourself.
The hardest part about making a change is when you “fall off the wagon.” You eat three slices of pizza, a chocolate cake with your wine, or skip a work out. Do not be angry or upset about it. Just get back on the wagon and continue as if it never happened. Have a support system to hold you accountable and motivate you to get back on track as quickly as possible. Eventually, what seemed hard becomes easier to manage and your will-power grows. Before you know it, you have made positive changes to your lifestyle.
The Food vs. Exercise Debate
Which is more important? Well, the answer is they both are important if you want to be healthy!
According to Michele Olson, PhD, “you can lose weight with diet alone, but exercise is an important component. Without it, only a portion of your weight loss is from fat — you’re also stripping away muscle and bone density. Since working out stimulates growth of those metabolic tissues, losing weight through exercise means you’re burning mostly fat.” Shawn M. Talbott, PhD adds to this, “as a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise. An analysis of more than 700 weight loss studies found that people see the biggest short-term results when they eat smart.”
You need both a healthy diet and exercise if you want to be fit, especially if you want to lose weight or maintain your current weight.
I Like to Move It, Move It
Working out and being active can help you lose weight and burn fat, lower your cholesterol and stress levels, improve your energy and endurance, and your quality of sleep. It can also strengthen your heart and muscles. Exercising combats health conditions and diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, and more. Exercising can improve your mood as physical activity stimulates your endorphins such as your serotonin levels, which is the chemical in the brain that plays a major part in mood, anxiety and happiness. It also can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.
Having a support system and friends or family who will encourage you is one way to stay motivated, when making lifestyle changes. Getting friends and family to work out with you is even better! Joining an online community of like-minded individuals also helps to hold you accountable for your actions and changes.
Wherever you are currently with your fitness goals, it is important to evaluate and reevaluate your progress. Make little goals to obtain, for instance lose 10 pounds this month, and reward yourself with a spa day for achieving your small goal. Work towards a major goal, like lose 50 pounds total. Once you reach your main goal, go on vacation or a shopping spree to reward yourself for achieving your goal.
Cardio, strength training, resistance training, high intensity interval training (HIIT) can seem like a lot! But a little bit of everything may be the best thing for your overall health. Cardio helps to burn the fat but strength training helps to build the muscle. As you build muscle, it helps to burn more fat. Brisk walking or Zumba are great cardio workouts. Using your body weight against gravity with squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks helps you to get leaner faster and build strength.
Generally, set a goal of only 30 minutes of physical activity, daily. For weight loss or if you have more specific fitness goals, then you may need to implement more exercise into your daily routine. Start small, maybe 15 minutes for three days a week, and build up to 30 minutes or more a day.
Reversing the Benefits
Once you reach your goals, do not stop maintaining your goals. It only takes three days of not working out to start a reversal of the health benefits you acquired during the process of reaching your goals. You burn fewer calories in a day causing weight gain and an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. It also makes your muscles and bones weak. Muscle atrophy and bone density loss is a serious issue in older adults and without physical activity, these issues are amplified. Your endurance and energy start to lack. The lethargy and listlessness you feel further dissuades you from engaging in physical activity and the vicious cycle continues. Lack of exercise also leads to a diminished sense of well-being and holds your self-esteem hostage.
Staying healthy is important to your quality of life, both now and in the future. If you are mostly sedentary, then even 5-10 minutes of movement a day can help reduce the risks of disease and health issues. If you are already an active person then step it up a notch to reach your fitness goals such as eating healthier. No matter what, make activity and proper eating a part of your health every day for the rest of your life.