Lifestyle: The Benefits of Exercise

“I’m too busy to workout.”

“I’ll start next week.” 

“I need to find a trainer first.”

 

We’ve all heard those lines before, and I’m sure there is a laundry list of others. When it comes to exercising, I don’t subscribe to any of them. They’re just excuses: tools of incompetence that build monuments of nothingness. And folks use them to avoid taking their health seriously.

It’s no secret that the United States has an obesity problem, and some of the contributing factors include food portion sizes, improper dieting, and the lack of exercise. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) advised that the average American ate almost 20% more calories in the year 2000 than they did in 1983, primarily due to meat consumption; today Americans eat an average of 195 lbs worth of meat. The World Health Organization found that the rise in fast food sales correlates with the rise in body mass, with fast food making up 11% of the American diet. But the major culprit in this obesity epidemic is the lack of exercise. Only 20% of today’s jobs require at least moderate physical activity compared to 50% in the 1960s, and Americans burn 120 to 140 fewer calories today than they did 50 years ago.

For those of you who’ve been following this blog, you know that I am an advocate for healthy eating (yes, I’m still transitioning to veganism). However, exercising is just as important as maintaining a proper diet. MedlinePlus has advised the following reasons why.

  1. Exercising helps you control your weight.
  2. It reduces your risk of heart disease.
  3. It can help your body manage blood sugar and insulin levels.
  4. It helps you quit smoking.
  5. Exercising improves your mental health and mood.
  6. It helps keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age.
  7. It strengthens your bones and muscles.
  8. Reduces your risk of some cancers.
  9. Reduces your risk of falls as you age.
  10. Improves your sleep.
  11. Improves your sexual health.
  12. Exercising also increases your chances of living longer.

In regards to my workout regime, it depends. I’ve been told by several fitness trainers that switching up your workouts gives you the best results. As someone who’s working to maintain a proper weight for my size and who wants to remain agile and fit, I do a culmination of strength training, cardio, and yoga. Here are some of the benefits of each.

Strength Training

black-man-working-out

Weight lifting does more for your body than just make you stronger and fitter. It helps boost your metabolism—your body turns into a fat-burning machine, burning more calories and fat even when you’re sitting down. It helps protect your bones as you age, essentially slowing down the aging process. Your sleep improves, giving you better energy throughout the day. And it improves your brain function as you get older, also helping older adults with mild cognitive function.

Cardio

black-woman-afro-hairstyle-running-outdoors-in-urban-road_1139-1308

Cardio exercise means that you are doing a rhythmic activity that raises your heart rate into your target heart rate zone. Cardio burns fat, makes your heart stronger, increases lung capacity, reduces stress, lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure, and it reduces the risk of some forms of cancer. A few examples of cardio exercises include walking, running, cycling, rowing, stair climbing, and swimming. Keep in mind that there is no best cardio option, any activity will work, as long as you’re getting your heart rate into the heart rate zone.

Yoga

1

Yoga provides many mental and physical benefits. The most popular form of yoga is Hatha, which is a physical combination of many styles. Yoga develops inner awareness (focusing on your body’s abilities at the moment), helps you become a mindful eater, boost weight loss and maintenance, enhances fitness regime, and improves your cardiovascular activity. Studies have also shown that yoga can help people with depression and arthritis.

Making the conscious decision to become more active is more than half the battle. Living in this hamster wheel of a society that we live in does make it hard to put your well-being first, but if it’s important to you then you’ll craft out time. Changing your diet is the first step, but training your body, in my opinion, will provide some lasting results. Get a trainer or exercise partner if you need to, but get moving.

Until Next Time…

 

 

 

 

(Sources)

Andriakos, J. (2018, March 07). 5 Amazing Things That Happen to Your Body When You Start Lifting Weights. Retrieved January 20, 2019, from https://www.health.com/fitness/weight-lifting-benefits

Waehner, P. (2018, November 18). Everything You Need to Know About Cardio. Retrieved January 20, 2019, from https://www.verywellfit.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-cardio-1229553

Benefits of Exercise. (n.d.). Retrieved January 20, 2019, from https://medlineplus.gov/benefitsofexercise.html

WHY ARE AMERICANS OBESE? (n.d.). Retrieved January 20, 2019, from https://www.publichealth.org/public-awareness/obesity/

Yoga – Benefits Beyond the Mat. (2015, February). Retrieved January 20, 2019, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-benefits-beyond-the-mat

 

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