Sadly, so many people in the U.S. are overweight and on some form of mood-altering substance – whether it is alcohol, drugs, tobacco or caffeine. Many engage in little or no exercise throughout the week. They are aging prematurely, precisely because of their lack of exercise and poor choices about what they ingest in their bodies. They have been in these unhealthy patterns so long that they don’t even know what it is like to feel radiant and healthy.
Lauren Naylor, a nursing student at Texas Christian University and healthcare advocate from Grapevine, TX spoke recently about the benefits when someone makes the transition from a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle to working out and taking care of their diet. Lauren came up with 10 good reasons for her training to spur people to begin to work out and take better care of their health.
Lauren recommends that the average adult needs to follow the Department of Health and Human Services guideline of at least two and a half hours of moderate to intense aerobic activity per week. If you are not so inclined to run, even walking meets these criteria for aerobic activity, as does swimming or dancing. In the Grapevine area, Naylor suggests that this goal is very easy to accomplish since there are so many sunny days and less rainfall. On the other hand, it can be very enjoyable and invigorating to take an “umbrella run” or walk. Everything smells so fresh and clean while it is raining.
We also need at least two hours a week of strength training. The latter helps build not only strong muscles but strong bone density as well.
The following are the benefits Naylor outlined of regular exercise:
Improves Mood and Lowers Stress:
Naylor stated the biggest change in her life with exercise and a healthy diet was that her mood was better. Creating a space in one’s day to burn off some energy also provides time to process the events of the day, feel about them and gain the strength and resolve to surmount problems. Studies have shown a very positive benefit for those who are depressed when they begin an exercise program. With all of the nasty side effects of prescription medication for depression and anxiety, it makes sense to try the exercise for a few months and see the changes exercise can provide in one’s life.
People who exercise have been found to sleep deeper and feel more rested when they arise in the morning.
Increases Energy Levels:
Not surprisingly, when one sleeps better, one has more energy throughout the day.
Also, although it may seem counter-intuitive for people who don’t exercise, regular exercise routines help people have more energy reserves throughout the week. Researchers have found the reason for this is that exercise helps get more oxygen and nutrients to tissues and organs. It also helps one’s cardiovascular system be more efficient. This provides more energy each day for those who exercise.
Aids Weight Management:
Exercise helps people manage their weight because exercise burns excess fat and boosts one’s metabolism. The chubby kid in elementary and middle school that begins to exercise will end up with lean muscles and strength. The same is true for adults, even those who are older. The difference is that one must begin at one’s current state of health and carefully add moderate exercise over time. Naylor, with her nursing background, advises that if you have a health condition, you should consult your doctor on how best to begin exercise. This is also true if you are obese.
Boosts Intelligence and Memory:
Aerobic exercise pushes blood and oxygen to our brains. More blood and oxygen in our brains helps boost our neuron network and enriches our hippocampus, the part of the brain that helps us plan and reason. Thus, exercise eliminates “brain fog” as well. It is for this reason that Naylor advocates the kids get less screen time and more time outside exercising. Children with highly developed thumbs do not advance the species.
Improves Immune Functioning:
Wouldn’t it be better to get ill rarely?
Keeps Bones Strong:
Women, in particular, can suffer from osteoporosis, which is basically brittle bones. This is a dangerous health condition that regular weight training can eliminate. For some, weight training is the answer. For others, the answer is body-weight strength training.
Builds Muscle Mass:
This helps people not end up feeble when they are older.
Reduces Blood Pressure:
Often, people with high blood pressure have too much plaque in their arteries. Exercise removes the plaque in people’s arteries that may have deposited there due to eating a high-fat diet. Removal of this plaque lowers blood pressure since blood can now move unimpeded through one’s body. Also, your heart will be stronger with regular aerobic exercise, which will also reduce blood pressure.
Improves Aerobic Capacity and Breathing:
When plaque is not impeding one’s arteries and heart function, blood can deliver more oxygen to our bodies, which helps us breathe better and more fully and not get short-winded.
Better Results When Combined with Healthy Diets:
Naylor also recommended that Grapevine residents take advantage of all of the wonderfully healthy food available locally and begin to work towards adding fresh and vibrant food, like five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Stanford University conducted a study with people over the age of 44 who had unhealthy lifestyles and found that people who combined healthy eating with more exercise were better able to continue and maintain their new healthy lifestyle changes. This makes intuitive sense because healthy food is what our bodies need and is the proper fuel for our exercise.
Lauren Naylor hopes to see her Grapevine TX neighbors out on an invigorating run, walk, swim or bike ride soon. They will be happier, more resilient, have clearer intellectual functioning, be more height and weight proportional, have more energy, and get better sleep at night. All of these benefits certainly make it worth a try to work through that initial period of aches when one begins a new activity. Naylor reminds everyone that that first period of one’s body adapting to exercise is short. After that, exercise makes us feel great.