Even before the day you’re born, your body never takes a rest. Without you even thinking about it, your body makes sure your heart beats, lungs breathe, and that all your organs function. How can you thank your hard-working body? Keep it healthy by being physically active and eating a proper diet. You’ll lower your risk of illnesses like heart disease and stroke and you’ll have more energy, too.
Importance of Physical Activity
One of the benefits of regular physical activity is that it helps your body maintain a healthy weight. Or, if your goal is to burn off some extra pounds, you may need to sweat more and keep an eye on the amount of food that you are consuming. Exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, or cycling can be very beneficial – and fun!
Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. This may seem like a lot, but it’s actually just 30 minutes for five days a week.
Regular exercise burns excess fat and helps prevent health problems caused by obesity. Those who are inactive or overweight are especially at risk of heart disease and stroke. Exercise also helps reduce blood pressure, increases the amount of good cholesterol (high density lipids), and lowers the level of bad cholesterol (low density lipids).
Workouts that focus on strength and resistance build bone density and help reduce the risk of bone fractures. Maintaining strong bones and muscles is very important for adults, especially as you get older, so these exercises should be included in any routine.
Aerobic exercises are especially beneficial for your heart and lungs. In addition to helping keep off excess weight, they can lower your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.
Exercise can not only be fun, but it will make your life more enjoyable. Being physically fit has been proven to improve your daily life, enhance your mood and well-being, and help you to learn. Studies have shown that people who exercise tend to have better mental health overall – in fact, exercise is a recommended step in the treatment of depression.
Physical Activities for Diabetics
Physical activity is especially important for diabetics, because exercise increases the absorption of glucose by increasing insulin activity. To stay healthy, diabetics should always be on the move. The added activity will help increase your strength, flexibility, and balance. Before starting an exercise program, discuss your plans with a health trainer and your physician to find the right balance for your health condition, and be sure to keep track of your blood-glucose level before and after exercise.
How Much Exercise?
For maintaining general health and your current weight, 2.5 hours of moderate activity or 1.5 hours of vigorous activity per week is recommended. If losing weight is your goal, consider a daily activity plan that includes aerobic exercise with a reduced calorie diet. Talk to your doctor about a dynamic, but safe, weight reduction exercise schedule.
Calories Burned in Typical Activities
Many enjoyable daily activities help burn calories and keep you fit. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking instead of driving. More vigorous activities, like jogging or swimming, burn calories at a higher rate per hour:
Gardening, Dancing & Golf
Bicycling (less than 10 mph)
Walking (3.5 mph)
Weight lifting (moderate)
Running or jogging
Cycling (more than 10mph)
Walking (4.5 mph)
Weight-lifting & basketball (vigorous)
Calories burned depend on an individual’s age, sex, and health factor. The more you weigh the more calories you burn.
Even moderate daily activities – like cleaning the house, washing the car, or walking – can be good for your health. When you move your body, you burn calories. More rigorous activities like aerobics, strength training, and flexibility exercises work specific areas of your body and make you stronger.
Aerobics work the large muscle groups, increase your pulse rate and oxygen inhalation, and facilitate an efficient supply of blood to all vital organs. Most aerobic activities, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, and ballroom dancing, can be done at a low intensity but for a longer duration; however optimal duration is 20 to 60 minutes for each session. Aerobic dance classes are very energizing and a great way to move your body after a day of sitting in an office or car.
Strength or resistance training – such as push-ups, lunges, and dumbbell-bicep curls – help build muscle as well as bone density. Try specific exercises or weight training that strengthens different muscle groups – such as the legs, back, chest, arms, and shoulders – each day for 30 minutes. Stronger muscles will provide you with many benefits including improved performance in other sports and daily activities and better posture. Consult with your health trainer about strength training exercises that are preferred for your health and age.
Flexibility is important for smooth joint and muscle movement, to reduce stress and muscle tension, and to prevent injuries. Stretching is not just for warm-up sessions any more – practicing yoga and passive martial arts such as tai chi are excellent for arthritis patients, as they strengthen muscles and reduce the tension on joints, as well as people looking to relieve anxiety and stress, improve cardiovascular fitness, and improve agility.
Stretching should always be done after aerobic or strengthening workouts to relax warm muscles and prevent stiffening. Be sure to warm up before practicing active stretching activities like yoga. Never stretch to an extent that hurts.
Now that you’ve learned about the importance of being physically fit, it’s time to get started. The quality of your life can be measurably improved by how active you are. It all begins with you, and your decision to get the most out of your life. Take one step at a time, and start with an exercise you will enjoy for 15 to 30 minutes a day. To make it more fun, ask a buddy to exercise with you. Find a variety of activities for your weekly routine that will help you stay strong and healthy. And most of all enjoy the benefits. Your body will thank you.