We live in a very technologically evolved society. This has many benefits in terms of making our lives easier, more comfortable, and more convenient. In fact, it makes our lives a bit too convenient.
We take our cars to and from work, we sit at a desk all day, and come home to houses that are heated and cooled automatically, and that have water available at the turn of a tap. Cars, computers, indoor plumbing – these might seem like commonplace things, but they are all relatively recent inventions, and they all lead to our living sedentary lifestyles.
This means that we don’t get enough exercise, which is one of the primary causes of weight gain and obesity. We know now that being overweight is not simply a dating-life killer.
Obesity leads to a laundry list of problems, including:
- High blood sugar (diabetes)
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increased stress
- Cardiovascular disease
- Aching joints
- Bilary calculosis
- Sleep apnea
- Respiratory issues
The Benefits of Exercise in a Healthy Lifestyle
With even a small increase in our daily level of physical activity, we can dramatically improve our health. For every bit of exercise we do in a day, we use up calories, a process which translates into weight loss and maintenance of healthy weight. The more we do, the less we are at risk of developing number one killers like heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Regular physical activity can also help us combat depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. These are often caused by chemicals that build up in our bodies until they flood our systems and make us feel miserable. Exercise helps our bodies to flush these excess chemicals out.
Older people need physical activity in order to maintain their immune systems, and to keep their muscles, joints, and bones strong. This reduces the risk of falling, improves coordination, and defends against many of the illnesses and injuries that tend to plague us later in life.
But wait! Don’t jump off the couch like a crazy person and begin an intense exercise regimen. Many people who want to become more physically active fail because they begin by setting extreme, dramatic goals that are impossible to achieve.
We shouldn’t be exercising just to “get healthy.” We need exercise in order to be healthy, and that means that we are going to need to get into doing regular physical activity on a daily—or near-daily—basis for the rest of our lives.
This may seem daunting at first, but don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. We don’t need to run 10 K every day, or do two hundred crunches every morning, in order to be active. Studies show that moderate levels of daily physical activity will dramatically improve the health of a sedentary person, and that any increase in our regular exercise level has big health benefits.
If you need to start slowly, then start exercising slowly. If you are a complete couch potato, find time in the day for even ten minutes of light exercise. This could be a stroll around the block, a set of tai chi, or a short spin on an exercise bike or treadmill.
Starting out with just those ten minutes every day or two will quickly find you building your way up to twenty minutes, half an hour, than an hour or more of exercise, easily done throughout your day. This process can happen so gradually that you will not even feel the strain. In fact, it will be your pleasure to do a little more and push a little further each day.
Of course, sometimes it can seem just about impossible to find even that ten minutes. An easy way to make time for exercise is to put it into your regular routine in some way. This might involve walking or cycling to and from work, or turning your lunch break into a workout break.
It doesn’t sound like too much fun on paper, but in practice, exercise throughout the day will actually leave you with a sharper mind, more energy, and a more positive outlook than does a car ride through rush hour traffic and a big, carb-o-riffic lunch.
Integrating physical activity into your daily routine is also a great way in which to make it a life-long practice. This is absolutely crucial to good physical health. Even a few weeks without exercise will negatively affect our bodies, so our goal should be to get out there every day and move those muscles!