By Christina Grand Porter
At risk of sounding like a very old joke, when you’re self-quarantining and sitting around the house, it doesn’t mean you have to sit around the house.
Study after study across many years have proven that exercise is vital to both physical and emotional well being. Even small amounts of physical activity are helpful, and accumulated activity throughout the day adds up to provide health benefits. Moving gets oxygen into the blood and helps you blow off some steam, making it ultimately calming and it very well may help you live longer and happier.
Exercise is good for you and for your muscles and bones. Helping to release hormones that promote the ability of your muscles to absorb amino acids. This helps them grow and reduces their breakdown. As people age, they tend to lose muscle mass and function, which can lead to injuries and disabilities. Practicing regular physical activity is essential to reducing muscle loss and maintaining strength as you age, but exercise also helps build bone density when you’re younger, helping to prevent osteoporosis later in life.
Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight is, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol, and it decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. It improves mood and boosts energy. Having more energy means when you think of something you could be doing; you are more likely to actually get up and do it instead of plopping in a chair and turning on the TV. Exercise produces changes in the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety. It can also increase brain sensitivity for the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression.
Moving promotes better sleep and increases creativity. Maybe it’s time to get out the easel and paints again or head back to the workshop to finally finish the birdhouse. Being active throughout the day builds confidence. There is a sense of accomplishment in sticking to a workout schedule, and an even bigger one when you see weight falling off and you can breathe in your skinny jeans again. Studies have shown that combining aerobic exercise with resistance training, like weights or resistance bands, can maximize fat loss and muscle mass maintenance, which is essential for keeping the weight off
When exercising, be in the moment. Don’t be mentally absent planning or thinking about other things you could be doing. It’s important to find a show or tape that you enjoy so you’ll stick to it. My greatest demand of a program is not having to get down on the floor; I can’t say why, but I’ve never liked floor exercises. For me, aerobic walking tapes that combine weight training turned out to be the routine I have been able to stick with for years.
While planning your day, do yourself a favor and make time for exercise. And just because you did a 30- or 45-minute workout doesn’t mean you can skip the walk with the dog. Dogs are wonderful additions to any workout; exercise is just as beneficial for them as it is for us and we only have to mirror their passion to increase our own enthusiasm for exercising.