10 Fun Ways to Work Out
10 Reasons Why You Should
Regular exercise or other physical activity is necessary in order to maintain optimal health and wellness. While some people dread exercising, I will show you 10 fun ways that my family and I enjoy getting physical and 10 reasons why you should.
#1 HIKING – Hiking is a great way to improve your cardio (heart and lungs), to build endurance and strengthen the muscles in the legs and glutes (buttocks). If you are carrying items like a backpack (or a baby like I was in one photo below) you will also get a workout in your torso and arms. ;D If you hike in nature you are also going to strengthen and relax your mind and spirit. As you can see my family and I love to go hiking.
#2 Yoga – Yoga is the perfect exercise! It relaxes the body, mind and spirit. It strengthens, stretches and balances the entire body and can also be a cardiovascular workout. As well, yoga can be done anywhere (as you will see in our pictures below).
Here is a great yoga video that I use daily entitled:
Ultimate Power Yoga by Rodney Yee
#3 Swimming – Swimming strengthens the entire body and is a great cardiovascular workout. It is also relaxing and is low impact (no pounding stress on the joints). As well, you can swim in all of these beautiful places.
# 4 Laughing – Many people don’t know that laughing is a great way to build our core strength (especially when you laugh so hard that your sides hurt afterward). It also improves your overall mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. So let life be fun and laugh as often as you can. “Life is but a game, so why not make it fun.”
#5 Dancing – Dancing can work your entire body and is a great form of cardiovascular exercise. The greatest thing about dancing is that it is loads of fun, is a great social activity and can be a very intimate activity with you and your partner. Never miss an opportunity to dance because you are embarrassed about your skills. Dancing is about enjoying yourself while moving your body.
I think Zumba is a great way to get some cardio and fun into your life.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Zumba, it is dancing aerobics set to fun pop music.
Here is a great zumba dance video entitled Zumba Fitness Dance Party for those wanting to learn:
#6 Gardening – Gardening is a great way to get your exercise and grow your food at the same time. Gardening is the ultimate form of being in nature as you are able to get down and touch the earth. Gardening can work your entire body, including cardio, and is also a great form of meditation. When our body touches the soil it creates a grounding effect that can help balance our body and restore our energy.
Our family loves to work in the garden
#7 Walking – Walking is less vigorous than hiking, but is still a great form of physical activity and can help alleviate stress. You can do it after meals, first thing in the morning, on your way anywhere, or while sightseeing and/or taking in the beauty of nature.
#8 Ride a Bike – Biking can be as strenuous or leisure of an exercise as you want.It is great for your balance, cardio and lower body strengthening. As well, you can get a lot of sight seeing in this way.
#9 Martial Arts – Any martial art is a great way to not only build strength, balance, flexibility and your cardiovascular health, but also builds confidence and the ability to defend yourself. I have taken brazillian jujitsu and it IS such an intense workout. I found myself sore in places I never knew existed.
#10 Play a Sport – Different sports have different benefits, but the key thing with all sports is that we enjoy playing them and have fun while being active.
#1 Improves Memory, Creativity & Productivity – Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, increases neural activity and releases healthy proteins (dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine endorphins and enkephalins, GABA, BDNF). Studies show that regular physical activity improves memory, creativity and the ability to learn new things. As well, those who exercise regularly are generally more productive than those who don’t. These brain benefits can also stave off Alzheimer’s disease by preventing degeneration of the hippocampus that can occur with aging.
#2 Reduces Stress, Depression & Anxiety – Certain regions of the brain are often destroyed in those with depression. It has been found that regular physical exercise can stimulate the growth of neurons in those regions, thus reducing depression. As well, endorphins are great at reducing stress, anxiety and pain. Exercise can also change the brain so that we are less likely to focus on stressful situations and prevent/reverse stress-related cellular changes.
#3 Prevents Cancer – Obesity increases ones risk for esophagus, pancreas, colon, kidney, thyroid, gallbladder, breast and endometrium cancers. Exercise can significantly reduce your risk of contracting these cancers, even if you do not lose weight (although losing weight decreases your risk even more).
#4 Increases Body Image, Self-Esteem, Sex-Appeal – Exercise can help you to look great by increasing your muscle mass and helping you lose body fat, but regular physical activity also helps change how you see yourself. Even if your body morphology doesn’t change significantly, regular exercise leads to fitness improvements and this can improve body image will increase your confidence and self-esteem, and this will make you more attractive to others. Not only will you be more attractive to others, but you will feel more sexy and sexual (intimacy is an important part of a healthy lifestyle).
#5 Improves Circadian Rhythm & Sleep – Those with chronic insomnia are known to have hyper-arousal of the stress system and are at increased risk of disease and a decrease in overall health. Commit to regular exercise for at least four months and you will start to fall asleep faster, sleep longer and sleep more deeply. Better sleep will help you awaken more refreshed, energetic, and less stressed.
#6 Prevents Muscle Loss & Osteoporosis – Physical activity limits the accumulation of body fat and improves muscle tone. This will help naturally balance sex hormones, strengthen the musculoskeletal system, and decrease the risk of osteoporosis. While there is much talk about the importance of calcium for bone health, nothing is more important to keep our bones strong than physical activity. Of course, if you already have osteoporosis you should seek guidance from a trained professional or talk to your health professional about which activities are safe for you to do.
#7 Prevents Diabetes & Heart Disease – Exercise can dramatically reduce insulin resistance (a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin, contributing to Type 2 Diabetes) and can allow muscle cells to take up glucose without insulin acting as an intermediary, thus improving blood glucose control. Like all muscles, the heart and blood vessels become stronger when we exercise. Physical activity boosts healthy HDL levels (high-density lipoproteins) and decreases unhealthy triglyceride levels, reduces inflammation, lowers blood pressure and helps keep blood vessels healthy and free of deposits. Heart disease is the number one of cause of death in the United States, but those who have an active lifestyle are half as likely to suffer from CAD (Coronary Artery Disease).
#8 Helps Control Addiction – Most addicts are chasing the release of dopamine in order to feel normal (see our blog on Cravings and Addictions in this weeks newsletter). Exercise also releases dopamine that can soothe and help provide a distraction from the normal addictive cycles. Physical activity also provides structure, a new way of being, and can be done with others. Exercise can also help heal the damaging effects of alcohol and drug abuse.
#9 Inspires Others – People are more likely to stick with an exercise program if they get active with others. Successful gyms understand this and provide a wide variety of exercise classes. Of course, going for a hike with friends, a walk after dinner with family, or swimming with your kids can be some of the most memorable activities you ever have.
#10 Fun – As you can see from the pictures above, exercise can be loads of fun. Physical activity can make you feel good, and as anyone that regularly exercises knows, if you don’t do it you miss it. Physical activity is especially fun when done with others. Whether an exercise class, a family activity, or even an event like a marathon, getting physical with others is definitely the way to go.
How much and what intensity of physical activity is enough to provide all of these amazing health benefits? Most studies suggest that 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise is sufficient. What does this mean? Moderate activity will cause you to start to sweat, increase your heart/respiration rate and you should start to feel a slight “burn” or “pump” in your muscles.
While there are complicated ways of measuring your heart rate (220-age multiplied by .50 to .85, depending on whether your goal is fat loss or cardiovascular training), a good rule of thumb is to look at your ability to carry on a conversation. If you are breathing more heavily but can carry on a conversation, you are exercising at a moderate activity level. If you are breathing so heavily that it is difficult to carry on a conversation, you are exercising at a strenuous level (best for improving your cardiovascular health).
No matter how vigorously you exercise, the most important thing is to get regular physical activity. Being up on your feet working around the house and in the garden for the majority of the day is actually more healthy for you than sitting most of the time and then doing a vigorous run for 30 minutes a day. Sitting for long periods is one of the worst things we can do for our health, and yet in our society today we sit more than ever.
Many of our jobs require us to sit in front of a computer all day, we sit in front of the TV for hours, we sit for long periods while commuting to work or getting around and running errands. Anything we can do to get off our backside will greatly benefit our health. Ride a bike or walk to work if you can. Can you stand at your desk while you work, or at least regularly stand and stretch your legs? Do you walk to the grocery store?
So lets get out there and get active. Lets improve our physical, mental, and emotional health.
Let’s Let Wellness Begin…