- Strengthen your heart.
- Decrease the risk of heart attacks.
- Improve circulation and oxygen/nutrient transport throughout the body
- Weight maintenance and loss.
- Improve breathing.
- Strengthen & tone muscles and improves appearance.
- Help prevent back problems and back pain.
- Improve blood panel -reduce bad LDL cholesterol and triglicerides, increase good HDL cholesterol, remove excess blood sugar from blood stream
- Improve posture.
- Strengthen bones and help reduce risk of osteoporosis.
- Improve the joints and reduce joint discomfort and arthritis
- Decrease risk for several types of cancer.
- Improve immune function which decreases risk for infectious diseases.
- Maintain physical and mental functions throughout the second half of life.
- Increase self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Boost energy and increases productivity.
- Improve sleep.
- Help create a positive attitude about life.
- Reduce anxiety and depression.
- Increase resistance to fatigue.
- Lengthen lifespan.
- Reduce blood pressure.
- Decrease the incidence of Type 2 diabetes.
- Reduce stress.
- Improve cognitive function, memory, and productivity
If someone were to give you a pill that could do all of that it would be a wonder drug. (And you would probably say, yah, but what’s the catch? What are the side effects?) Well, unlike most miracles, it is already here! It already exists. And it always has! And you don’t even have to take a pill or injection or patch. Think for a moment on all these points on this list and recall all the drugs and treatments that are out there to help with each of those. Statins for cholesterol, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, anti-anxiety pills, insulin, metformin, antibiotics, herbal remedies, vitamins, osteoperosis drugs, deprivation diets, insomnia pills, arthritis medication, surgeries, counseling, psychotherapy, self-help books and programs, inhalers, pain medications and narcotics, not to mention caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and comfort (aka high salt, fat and/or sugar) foods people use to try and get through the day.
This wonder drug can take the place of most, if not all, of these other treatments for these ailments. And yet to most it is considered an ugly word: exercise. But we could also call it movement. Or activity. Surprised?
Exercise can do so much for us and yet we relegate it to one of the last things on our list of important activities in our day when it should be one of the top priorities. Exercise or movement activity should be incorporated into your daily life -every day. And then you could add more in on top!
The minimum dose that the American government recommends for adults is 150 minutes of moderate activity per week and if possible 2 days of strength exercises as well. That is only a little over 20 minutes a day. For children under 18 it should be 60 minutes of vigorous -make you sweaty and hot- activity EVERY DAY.
Kelly and I were talking about how the minimum guidelines are really low, especially the adults ones. I mean, I get 20 minutes of walking on days when I feel like I haven’t done any exercise at all. Just walking at breaks or lunch and after work I probably get 40 + minutes in. We really should shoot for more vigorous exercises each day to really get even more benefits out of it.
But the important thing is to start somewhere even if it is just 20 minutes of walking. Do it EVERY day. Make it a habit just like brushing your teeth. If you have to, turn on the music in the morning and walk briskly in place for ten minutes while brushing your teeth and looking through your closet for clothes. Then do it again at night. That should be your minimum. You should never go a day without at least those 20 easy minutes.
But look for ways you can add more exercise into your life. Both small changes like taking your dog for a daily walk and parking far away in the parking lot at the big box stores to joining a gym or training for a race. You try very hard to not miss a dose of medication that your doctor prescribes, so why would you miss exercise? It IS THAT important and the more you add (up to a point) the more benefits you will derive. This is your prescription for health!
For me, I like to make exercise fun. I have a hard time with just running in place or even on the treadmill, but I will do it when there is no other option. I prefer walking or sprinting on the outdoor trails, turning on fast paced music and jumping around in my house, playing games, hiking, gardening, Zumba and even a new exercise video or class. I try to keep it fresh and exciting, but even when it is not -like my evening walks with Britton around the same parks every night, I still do it. Our walks not only provide the exercise, but a chance to decompress and talk about our day. We do lunges from our clusterbox mailbox back to our house. We do sit ups and push ups while watching TV. We take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. We try and make activity just a part of our lives. We take our wonder drug with us everywhere we go.
What do you thik of the minimum guidelines? Do you agree that exercise is a wonder drug? How do you incorporate physical activity into your daily life? Why do you think so many Americans are so sedentary?