Exercise can be a daunting prospect, especially if you are very unfit or overweight. Many people are also put off by negative experiences of exercise at school. This can be enough to put you off even starting an exercise program. However, exercise and fitness are so life enhancing that they should not be ignored, and this article will show you easy, fun ways you can include exercise in your life.
A lot of exercise advice seems to be aimed at people who are already slim and fit; you can pick up almost any fitness magazine to see the truth of this. Most mainstream fitness programs are no better; they seem to almost pride themselves on being “extreme”, “ultra-intense”, “insane” or whatever other marketing phrase is currently in vogue!
However, even a small amount of exercise can be very beneficial. Regular short bouts of low to moderately intense exercise can have a profound effect on your fitness and health.
The Benefits of Exercise
Getting fit and losing weight have far-reaching benefits that are almost too numerous to list. Many people focus on how differently they will LOOK once they have lost weight, but exercise affects the outside of the body as well as the inside. Your brain’s cognitive function and your emotional state will also improve with exercise.
Here are just some of the fantastic benefits of exercise — just a few hours of exercise a week can . . .
- Improve your cardiovascular health — you’ll cut your risk of suffering from high blood pressure, a heart attack or a stroke.
- Reduce your risk of developing diabetes — Type 2 diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the US, but a healthy diet and exercise can insure that you don’t suffer from this disease.
- Increase your energy — banish that lethargy and get on with doing all the things you want to.
- Boost your immune system — strengthening your defenses against colds and flus.
- Lower your risk of knee, hip and lower back pain — stretching before and after exercise will help keep your joints supple and pain-free.
- Reduce your risk of sleep apnea (a disorder where breathing stops and starts while you sleep) — leading to a better nights rest and more energy.
- Improve your mobility and balance — leading to a reduced risk of suffering falls.
- Reduce your risk of some types of cancer — particularly breast cancer and colon cancer.
- Increase your trength — making everyday activities easier.
- Improve your memory — studies have shown exercise reduces your risk of age-related memory loss.
- Improve your mood, confidence and happiness — wake up with a smile on your face and a spring in your step!
By incorporating exercise in your weekly routine you will notice a significant improvement in your quality of life.
Fun Exercises for Everyone
Exercise doesn’t have to be joyless! You don’t have to go to the gym and pound away on a treadmill for three hours to feel the benefits. Here are some fun ways you can incorporate more exercise into your life:
- Cycling — can you cycle to work? Why not take a cycling holiday, or cycle to the park with your family?
- Walking — walking is a great low impact sport that wont put stress your joints, and you can walk anywhere, with anyone. Visit another town, take the longer route to the shops, go for a walk with your friends and discover somewhere new.
- Swimming — this is probably the best low impact exercise. Swimming is wonderfully relaxing as well as being great for toning muscles. Water aerobics classes are a fun way of improving your fitness.
- Badminton — try badminton for a fun game that all the family can enjoy. It’s much slower than tennis, which gives you, or the children, plenty of time to align yourself and successfully hit the shuttle back!
- Bodyweight exercises — you don’t need any equipment, just your body and a yoga matt. Body weight workouts are quick and easy, and a great way to tone your muscles.
Creating an Exercise Plan You’ll Want to Stick To
One of the most common mistakes people make when starting an exercise plan is diving head first into a program of planned workouts. Although the initial motivation may carry you through the first few weeks of your new regime, this enthusiasm can all too quickly turn to boredom.
For exercise to be effective, it needs to be done regularly, not just for a week or a month, but for the foreseeable future. One way to do this is to start small and then gradually increase your efforts over several weeks, months or years.
For example, instead of joining a gym and planning to go five times a week, try doing 20 minutes of simple bodyweight exercises at home, three days a week. Once you’ve created that habit, add another weekly workout, and gradually increase the duration, intensity and frequency. Alternatively, go for a 10 minute walk today, and add an extra minute each day so that you are almost imperceptibly increasing the length of your walks. Once you are walking 30 minutes or more, try walking a bit faster.
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found that people were more likely to stick to an exercise plan that prescribed short bouts of exercise throughout the day, rather than one lengthy session. Choose an activity you enjoy, that you can do for 5-10 minutes, and do it two or three times a day. You won’t really notice you’re exercising, but your body will certainly feel the benefits.
Exercise is truly beneficial, and choosing the right exercises for your body type is important. If you are carrying a lot of extra weight, a brisk walk is an excellent way of getting started on your weight loss journey without putting too much stress on your joints.
If you are significantly overweight, or have any kind of chronic medical condition, it’s important that you seek your doctor’s advice before starting an exercise routine.
Small Steps for Big Changes
You didn’t become unfit overnight, it probably took years, so it’s unrealistic to expect to lose weight or get fit in just a few short weeks. However, small, sustainable changes will add up to BIG results. Programs and diets that promise “amazing results in just one month” are nothing more than marketing hype. Small, sustainable steps will get you to your goal much faster than overly ambitious programs that you simply cannot stick with so relax, take your time and enjoy the journey! How are you going to start your easy exercise plan today?References