Did you know that between 60 and 70 percent of the world’s population lead a sedentary lifestyle. It has been reported that over a quarter of the adults in England were classified as obese with over 20 percent of the UK respondents reporting that they took walks of at least twenty minutes ‘less than once a year or never’. Unlike our ancestors who led an active lifestyle of hunting and gathering food, the 21st century lifestyle is predominantly sedentary with a lot of free time spent watching the television or using the computer, often accompanied with snacks such as crisps and chocolate. If you fit into this category then it is time to shake up your sedentary lifestyle and to start incorporating beneficial exercise and activities into your lifestyle.
The benefits of exercise
Most people have an endless list of excuses to refrain from exercise, which can be a busy schedule or even a lack of funds for a gym membership. If the benefits of exercise could be squeezed into a pill, it would be considered a ‘magic pill’. Regular exercise not only improves one’s physique, but it can help you sleep better, manage stress more effectively, help prevent osteoporosis, strengthen your heart, burn calories, decrease your appetite and even improve your skin. Regular exercise with good nutrition can actually slow down the ageing process. I am briefly going to discuss some of these points below.
- Exercise improves circulation, works the heart muscle and improves lung capacity strengthening the entire cardiovascular system.
- Exercise is a healthier way to work off frustration and anger. Studies show that people who exercise cope better with stress. Increased circulation pumps blood carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain helping clearer thinking.
- Weight bearing exercises such as walking can help slow down bone loss due to ageing.
- Exercise burns calories and keeps the metabolic rate high for hours even after you have finished exercising.
- Exercise helps to enhance muscle tone. If you are dieting and reducing food intake then you are burning muscle instead of fat. In order to retain muscle tissue, you must exercise. Although muscle tissue weighs more than fat, it takes up less space making you look slimmer. With regular exercise, you build more muscle tissue using deposited fat as your source of energy.
- Regular exercise increases endorphins and dopamine production in the brain. These are feel good chemicals that help improve self esteem.
I do not know of any pill, medical or cosmetic treatment that can provide you with all these benefits. Exercise is absolutely essential for your health and wellbeing.
So now you have decided to take up regular exercise, what next?
If you have never had any exercise routine, it is best to start on a sensible regime so that you can build stamina and strength slowly over a period of time. Before you take on any regimen, see your doctor to ensure that the types of exercises you are intending to partake in are safe for you.
For the purpose of this article, I am not going through all the different types of exercises because the aim of this article is to get you moving. I am particularly interested in ensuring that the people who do not take exercise regularly do so and this is not as difficult as would appear.
Aim to exercise initially for half an hour a day and I am sure most of you will agree that this is not difficult to do so. Start by walking around the area you live in; for busy individuals, exercising first thing in the morning is a good option. This will keep you on track and prevent your schedule from being interrupted, which can often happen when you intend to exercise in the evening.
Weekends give you ample time to incorporate a wide variety of activities whether it’s swimming, a mild jog or even some activity with your friends. There are no excuses. Even cleaning the house is an excellent form of exercise helping to burn calories and moving those muscles.
The role of nutrition in exercise
This section is dedicated to those who are already active and have an exercise routine. Ensure that you have a range of activities that includes stretching activities for flexibility, aerobic activity for cardiovascular health and resistance training for increasing strength and for toning the body. At the beginning of any exercise routine, you must warm up for five minutes and stretch. You can do this simply by gently walking to get the blood circulating in the body and to loosen up your joints. Then stretch slowly until you feel some resistance and hold each stretch for between five and ten seconds. Repeat three times before you embark on either aerobic or resistance activity.
The role of nutrition cannot be underestimated when you are exercising at any level and particularly for those already taking up regular moderate exercise. Proper sports nutrition is essential to keep your body moving at its optimal performance but herein lies the problem. There are hundreds of sports products on the market, many of which claim to be ‘advanced’ and they are often very expensive. For the majority of us who exercise moderately and do not need the very latest cutting edge product, it is easier to remember the basic principles of what is necessary.
Prior to your workout, your body requires a burst of energy to ensure that you can carry out the exercise. During your workout, your body requires a rehydration drink with minerals lost through sweat that can rehydrate faster than water. After your workout, your body requires a recovery food that repairs the muscle tissues for a faster recovery. It really is that simple.
Prepare for action
When undertaking any form of exercise, it is important that the body is not starved of vitamins and minerals and equally important to ensure that digestive system is fully up to scratch. To ensure that both these are met fully, I tend to recommend a good multinutrient such as Daily Fruit & Veggie by Natrol and a good probiotic such as Mega Probiotic ND by Food Science of Vermont. Exercise generates an increased number of damaging free radicals which rapidly deplete the body’s antioxidant reserves. Taking My Favorite Multiple Energizer may help to rebalance this, whilst Mega Probiotic ND will not only help digestion but also support immune function. There is nothing more de-motivating than if a cold or flu interrupts your exercise regime.