Everyone has heard that exercise is good for you. The web is filled with articles about the many health benefits of exercise, and new research finds that light exercise is even better than treatment with prescription drugs at preventing 3 of the top 4 causes of death in the US. So why don’t more people exercise regularly? I think that for most people exercise is seen as a chore, something they do not like to do. The idea that exercise is no fun is exactly what needs to change!
Before we look at ways to make Exercise more fun let’s look at why exercise has all of these heath benefits. Everybody knows that our bodies are made up of cells and these are organized into functional units, or tissues such as muscles, tendons, and organs. Each one of these cells and tissues gets its nutrition from blood. So in very simple terms better blood flow equals better health. And guess what exercise does? It activates our built in pump (the Heart) to increase blood flow.
Three keys to make exercise more fun:
The benefits from exercise come from increased blood flow. Guess what happens when we are stressed? We tighten up our muscles, decreasing blood flow, and limiting our physical and mental performance. Can exercise be relaxing? Of course! Even in the most intense and difficult athletic endeavors such as professional sports and the Olympics you hear the best athletes say that they are at their best when they can “relax” and get into their groove. So have a relaxed attitude when you exercise to get the most out of it.
2) Pick your favorite activity and make it exercise.
So many things can be exercise. Simple things such as walking the dog, biking, doing yard-work, etc. My favorite exercise is Chinese Qi Gong, or energy exercises that are the basis for what most people know as Tai- Chi. (For more info on this topic see flowing zen.com) I like this type of exercise because it strengthens the entire body and makes you feel refreshed and energized afterwards, not tired or worn out, and it can be done indoors or outside without any equipment.
Other great ideas for exercise include going outside and playing with your children. Simple activities such as shooting a basketball, throwing a Frisbee, etc. are great exercise. By the way, the exercise is good for you and your kids. Here in Florida swimming is an exercise that I recommend to lots of patients because is it very low impact and can be done without aggravating joint injuries.
If you like a structured, group activity there are lots of classes at local gyms, but my favorite is to look for a local meetup group that does a sport that you enjoy, such as volleyball, racquetball, or tennis. Activities such as Yoga can also be done in a group or individual setting.
Once you have selected your favorite exercise or two be sure to enjoy it! If you enjoy the activity you are much more likely to keep doing it, and guess what makes all exercise better for you? When you actually do it! So smile when you exercise and truly enjoy it. And if that changes, pick up something else. Just keep going so that your exercise becomes a regular part of your daily life. This way it will become a good, lasting habit.
So yes, I know that many of us are stuck indoors with the bitter cold of Winter right now, but Spring is just around the corner and many fun, indoor activities are excellent exercise too. So chose your favorite physical activity, do it regularly, and enjoy!
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