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Jun 11, 2011

7 Reasons to Move Your Body

Did you realize that there are 1,400 minutes in every day?  Think of every minute as an opportunity to make a healthy choice about what we do with our time.  With 1,400 minutes available to us in the day, it seems reasonable to set aside 30-60 minutes of those to move our bodies.  Exercising in some way on a daily basis is a vital aspect of maintaining optimal health.  We’ve all heard this mantra many times before, but what makes exercise so important?  Let’s review at least 7 major reasons, and remind ourselves why we should all dedicate at least 30-60 minutes of our day to this incredibly worthwhile activity. 

Benefit #1-Improves your mood.  Not only is it a great way to blow off steam from a long or stressful day’s work, it will help you look better, which can dramatically improve self-esteem.  One of the best remedies for low mood/depression, as it triggers the release of chemicals from the brain that help us feel happy and relaxed.    

Benefit #2-Prevents/reverses chronic diseases like atherosclerosis, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer.  Helps balance blood sugar, reduces insulin resistance, regulates blood pressure, and strengthens the cardiovascular system.  Boosts the “good” cholesterol (HDL) and lowers triglycerides.  Risk of hip fractures can be dramatically reduced (about 40 percent) by walking for just 4 hours per week.  

Benefit #3-Manages your weight.  Not only does physical activity burn calories, it reduces inflammation in the body.  When inflammation is calmed, excess pounds are more likely to come off.  Proper weight loss can help people be free of joint pains caused by the wear and tear of obesity.   

Benefit #4-Boosts your energy.  Physical activity strengthens the heart and lungs, and leads to the increased availability of oxygen and nutrients to your tissues, as well as increased elimination of toxic wastes products.  Cells and organs operate more efficiently, giving you the energy you need to do the things you enjoy.   

Benefit #5-Promotes restful sleep.  Exercise has a calming effect on the nervous system and mood.  Not only can regular physical activity help you fall and stay asleep through the night, it also enhances deep sleep.  Since our bodies regenerate most during times of sleep, you can see how exercise indirectly stimulates the renewal and healing of our bodies.  Be careful though-exercising too late in the day may cause a surge of energy that can give you trouble falling asleep.  In this case, try exercising earlier in the day.     

Benefit #6- Enhances intimacy.  It may sound too good to be true, but regular physical activity can significantly improve your sex life by boosting your overall energy and endurance.  It can help increase your confidence and make you look better, which can be important components of a healthy sex life.    Exercise can also be linked with increased arousal in women and less erectile problems in men. 

Benefit #7-A perfect source of FUN.  If you’re looking for something to do, get outdoors (or indoors) and get moving!  Don’t assume that you have to resort to activities that are beyond boring or just plain unenjoyable for you.  Get creative, try something new.  Grab a soccer ball, basketball, football, or Frisbee and head to the park.  Run around the jungle gym with your kids.  Explore a new hiking trail or try out a new class at your local gym.  Mow the lawn, go for a swim, bicycle, dance, jump rope, or lift some weights.  If you enjoy walking, then just keep the pace up and go for it!  Keep in mind it’s a good idea to start any physical activity slowly if you’ve been inactive for a while or if you have any kind of cardiovascular condition.  Always start out gentle, and gradually turn the intensity up as your strength and endurance builds over time.  With any activity remember the importance of warming up and stretching to prevent injuries.   

We can all find excuses to put exercise off, but the truth is that 30-60 minutes of movement each day has a long list of benefits that you will not want to miss out on!  If you are looking for easy, not to mention inexpensive, ways to improve your health exponentially, then look no further.  Get moving!!

Dr. Shana McQueen