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How Active Are You? The Importance of Regular Exercise

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A group of women stretching in a group exercise class

We’ve all heard how important it is to get regular exercise. And yet modern life has forced people to live sedentary lives and get very little exercise daily.  The technological advances of this time have brought a great amount of convenience. But people no longer have to do the same amount of physical labor that their ancestors did. Most people spend far more time glued to large screen televisions, computers, mp3 players, cell phones, and video games than doing physical activity.

Unfortunately, living a sedentary lifestyle has become a very common problem in the US and around the world.  According to the World Health Organization, almost one-third of all adults in the world do not get enough daily activity to keep themselves healthy.  In the US, around 70% of all adults are not getting sufficient physical activity.

Forty years ago, video games were just being developed and cable television was not as common in homes like it is today. This encouraged people to be outside doing more physical activities each day. Watching television was a treat, and people watched far less. Families spent more time together doing physical activities.

Now, most people spend much of their life sitting and staring at screens. The average American currently spends more than 10 hours a day sitting, consuming media of different kinds on their devices. That amount doesn’t include the work hours they spend sitting and looking at a computer screen.  Technology has become an addiction that is immobilizing the masses. It is creating a sedentary lifestyle that is contributing to obesity and chronic illness.

And now, not only are adults sedentary, but kids are too.  And we are all paying the price for spending too much time in a seated position. If you spend too much time sitting, it’s important to get up and get moving! Exercise plays an important part in rebuilding health.

The benefits of regular exercise

It helps to reduce disease

Those who live a sedentary lifestyle experience an increase in heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and more.  The body needs that activity to keep the heart and other vital organs functioning at their best.

It boosts the immune system

When you are physically active on a regular basis, you are less prone to getting colds, flu, and other viruses.  This is due to the fact that regular exercise stimulates the lymphatic system, which is one of the body’s garbage cleanup centers.  Unlike the circulatory system that is moved by our heart, the lymphatic system does not have a “pump” to get it going.  Only deep breathing and aerobic exercise can move the lymphatic fluid.  Viruses, bacteria, and other toxins are circulated in lymphatic fluid.  If the fluid is not actively circulated so that these toxins can be flushed out, you will ultimately start having symptoms.

Strengthens and improves muscle tone

Regular exercise helps to strengthen the muscles. But it also helps to strengthen the bones and can help to improve your posture. 

Stress reduction

Getting regular exercise releases endorphins which are the feel-good chemicals of the brain.  People who are moderately active (exercising 3-4 times a week for at least 30-40 minutes) are able to cope with stressful events more easily than those who are inactive.  Exercise can also help those who suffer from mild depression.  In other words, being active makes you feel good!

Increases energy

When you are active regularly, you will find that your energy levels increase significantly.  This is partially due to the release of endorphins and also due to the increase in oxygen levels in the body.  You will get rid of that tired, lethargic feeling and get a whole lot more accomplished.

It keeps the weight down

Obesity is a huge problem in the US. And regular exercise can help to keep your weight at a healthy level.  This will also help you to avoid obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

How much exercise should you get?

According to the Mayo Clinic, adults should get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity, such as taking the dog for a brisk walk, going for a bike ride, swimming laps, or jogging, each week.

You would need only 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week such as running or high-impact aerobic dancing to get the amount of activity you need to keep yourself healthy.

It’s also recommended that you do some strength training at least two days a week to build or maintain muscle.

So, what do you do for exercise?  The best bet to get you moving is to find exercises that you really enjoy, which will be a great incentive for you to participate.  Start taking the dog for a walk. Or gather some family members to walk around the neighborhood each day. For those who like to dance, there are danced based videos and games that can keep you active. Or you could have a dance party with your kids or spouse in your living room.

Some people enjoy organized exercise classes such as spinning classes or Zumba classes.  There’s also Yoga and Pilates.

Find something that resonates with you and that you feel good doing.  The objective is to get you off of the couch and away from your gadgets for a while. You’ll feel better and be far healthier when you regularly move your body.  It’s why exercise is an important part of the holistic protocol we use with clients here at FDNthrive.

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