LESS STRESSING, MORE MOVING
As much as the very thought of exercising may stress you out, studies show that regular movement can actually melt away stress. It’s basically the reason why people go dancing to have a good time or when people use their hands a lot when they’re telling a really good anecdote. The body was made to move. Staying still for extended periods of time can make on stir-crazy.
According to the chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise, Cedric Bryant, exercising produces a “relaxation response” that the body takes as “a positive distraction.” He also says that it improves mood and keeps depression at bay. Also, less stress means a more positive outlook in life and a chipper mood to boot. The less stressed you are, the less likely you’ll feel irritable over little things, the greater the chances of your relationships — with family, with friends, with co-workers — improving.
FITTING FITNESS IN
A lot of people claim that they don’t have the time or the energy to exercise. While this may be true, given the insane 9-to-5 hours that we clock in every day, there’s a trick to squeezing exercise in every day. Simply kill two birds with one stone.
Find a way to move constantly in everything you do. Those people who walk to work or take the stairs? They’ve got the right idea. Do the same thing! Walk to work, take the stairs, ride a bike. Every time you go out as a family, make it physical. Swimming, hiking, wall climbing — the possibilities are endless.
You don’t have to set aside one specific hour for fitness every day. You can chop it up into smaller exercises scattered throughout the day. A 20-minute walk in the morning followed by 30 minutes of cardio in the afternoon works just as well.
BODY AND BRAIN Certified trainer David Atkinson — also Director of Program Development for Cooper Ventures, of the Cooper Aerobics Center — swears that exercise vastly improves mental functions. “Exercise increases energy levels and increases serotonin in the brain, which leads to improved mental clarity,” says Atkinson on the topic.
He is backed up by assistant professor of kinesiology at California State University Todd A. Astorino. “It is clear that those who are active,” he says, “and who exercise are much more productive at work.”
EXERCISE AND EAT MORE
Muscle has higher resting metabolic rate compared to body fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn through while at rest. This is on top of the calories you burn while actually exercising.
This is not a free pass to eat whatever you want. It does, however, mean that you can feel less guilty about bingeing out or cheating with an extra slice of cakes. The more muscle you build, the less likely snacking on a donut in-between meals will take your progress back five weeks.
EXERCISE GIVES ENERGY
“When endorphins are released into your bloodstream during exercise,” Astorino says, “you feel much more energized the rest of the day.”
It’s the greatest paradox of all, really, when people say they’re too tired to exercise. People think exercising is going to take all their energy. What they don’t realize is that living a sedentary lifestyle drains you of energy. It’s a cycle; the more tired you are, the more you don’t want to exercise. The more you don’t exercise, the more tired you are. The only way out is to break the second step!
Yes, exercising at first may be draining, especially if you haven’t done it a lot. However, once your body gets into the rhythm, you won’t ever feel like stopping!