- Are you exercising regularly? It’s a question that can bring on groans and guilt. The reality is that many people read, talk, or think about exercising more than they actually do it. You know exercise is good for you and you know your doctor is going to ask you about it, but are you actually getting up and being active? If not, we hope to get you moving!
Why should I exercise?
You should exercise because your body was designed to move. Modern life—with office jobs, cars, and comfy couches—allows us to survive without exercise, but your body still craves movement and needs physical activity for optimal health. Exercise provides so many health benefits it’s hard to keep track of them all!
- Exercise helps prevent or manage chronic health conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and cancer.
- Exercise promotes weight loss.
- Exercise helps you sleep better.
- Exercise boosts your energy level.
- Exercise strengthens your muscles and tones your body.
- Exercise can prevent and help treat depression.
- Exercise keeps your bones strong.
- Exercise relaxes you and helps reduce stress.
- Exercise promotes a strong immune system.
- Exercise can increase your libido.
- Exercise improves circulation and lowers your heart rate and blood pressure.
- Exercise can improve your complexion.
- Exercise can be fun, especially when you play a group sport or work out with a friend.
- Exercise can make you feel happier and more alive!
What if I don’t have time and don’t belong to a gym?
You can make some small changes today. Walking is great exercise, and it’s easy to add more walking into your daily routine.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator from now on.
- Park in the furthest parking spot from the door.
- Walk on your lunch break, even if you only have 10 minutes to spare.
- Walk on a treadmill or simply march in place while you watch T.V.
- Catch up with a friend by walking together instead of talking on the phone.
- Walk instead of driving to the store, library, supermarket or anyplace that’s close enough'
Cleaning, dancing, and raking leaves count too. If you’re up and moving around, you’re exercising.
Recent studies show that as little as 10 minutes of physical activity improve your health. Thirty minutes per day several times a week is recommended, but 30 minutes can come in 10-minute chunks—whenever you can make time throughout the day.
How could I start an exercise routine?
If you want to begin an actual exercise routine, there are many things to consider:
- If you have any serious medical conditions, you should contact your doctor before starting to work out. Your doctor will let you know of any exercise restrictions for your medical conditions and medications.
- Think about what kind of exercise you want to try. Choose a realistic option for your fitness level, and choose something that interests you and sounds like fun.
- Decide when and where you will work out.
- Decide whether you would rather work out alone or with someone. If you would like company, figure out who would be a good workout companion.
- Come up with some realistic goals—and some rewards!
- Tell your friends and family about your plans, and think of at least one role model. Supportive people and role models can help you keep up your momentum.
- Get some athletic shoes, clothing, and any other necessary gear if you don’t already have them.
Any tips for my first work out?
- Always begin and end your workout routine with stretching. Some gentle warm-up and cool-down stretches will make the workout much easier on your body and help prevent strain, soreness, and injury. Think of stretching as part of the workout and be sure to leave time for it!
- Even after stretching, it’s very important to start a new exercise routine slowly—and we know this can be hard to do when you are excited to get going and see results. Keep in mind that if you push yourself too much too soon, you could end up with pain and injuries that prevent you from continuing to work out. You might also find that you lose your enthusiasm quickly. These are classic beginner’s mistakes, so really try to take it easy at first.
- Congratulate yourself for making exercise a priority. Smile and enjoy your workout!
Once you go from thinking and talking about exercise to actually adding more activity into your life, you’ll begin to reap the health benefits listed above. Before you know it exercise will become a natural part of your day, and when someone asks you if you are exercising regularly, you’ll be able to smile and tell them all about it!
From the Doctors at Women’s Health Associates:
Leah Ridgway, MD
Evelina Swartzman, MD
Ana Martinez, MD
Reagan Wittek, MD
Amy Giedt, MD
Kimberly Matthews, MD