A few generations ago, most people didn’t have to carve out time to move their bodies. Farming, laborious jobs and tasks, walking to most destinations, and the daily activities of survival kept our ancestors physically busy for most of their lives. For some, food was scarce or limited even while they had to put huge demands on their bodies. Life expectancy was shorter than it is now, and life could be very hard and grueling.
Technology has greatly reduced the amount of time we have to spend on tasks that used to require heavy and sustained physical labor; but while we now have the luxury of plenty of time for leisure—along with plenty of food—our modern lifestyle is far too sedentary for our health. The pendulum has swung in the other direction.
The good news is that, while most of us don’t have to toil 12 to 14 hours a day in all weathers just to survive, a little prioritizing will yield at least a little time each day or week in order to get some exercise. Even 90 minutes a week of moderate exercise yields incredible benefits that far surpass the small investment of your time.
What Level of Exercise Is Best?
Any level of exercise is better than none—provided that you aren’t pushing your body so hard you risk injury. But if you’re ready to get off the couch, it’s important to find exercises that you enjoy so that you will be motivated to keep going. Building a habit of regular exercise is key. It’s likely that the benefits you feel from that exercise will provide further motivation.
Moderate exercise can include weight-bearing and aerobic activities, and both types are great for you. Yoga, weight lifting, walking, swimming laps, gardening, jogging, hiking, biking, and skiing all count as moderate exercise. At just 30 minutes a day, it will only take a week or two to start seeing undeniably positive changes in your body.
The benefits of exercise are many and varied. Let’s explore just a few in order to help you find the internal motivation to start and maintain an exercise program.
Lower Blood Pressure and Improve Cholesterol Levels
Many people struggle to keep their blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. Moderate exercise performed for just 30 minutes a day can work as well as prescription medication for both of these issues. In fact, many people have been able to reduce or eliminate blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications just by engaging in a regular program of moderate exercise.
Moderate exercise not only reduces the symptoms of depression, but it can improve mood levels for anyone. As you exercise, your body releases endorphins—the feel-good hormones—while also boosting the immune system.
Increase Bone Density
Moderate exercise strengthens bones by encouraging them to increase in density, which reduces the chances of osteoporosis. Denser bones are harder to break, and falling and breaking a hip or leg can be devastating for senior citizens, in particular. Whatever your age, moderate exercise will shield you against bone injuries and osteoporosis.
Increase Energy and Stamina
Who enjoys huffing and puffing after walking up a couple flights of stairs? Regular, moderate exercise increases stamina over time. You’ll soon find that you can shoot up those stairs and barely feel winded! And while you’re increasing your stamina, your circulatory system is getting stronger, as well. Better circulation with greater delivery of oxygen to all the cells of your body increases energy.
In conjunction with a healthy diet, regular, moderate exercise encourages the body to burn fat instead of glucose as a fuel source. Not only that, but you’ll stop craving sugar and junk food, as well, which will further help you control your weight and increase your overall health.
So what are you waiting for? Pick something you enjoy doing (perhaps walking with a friend) and start doing it 30 minutes a day. Change up the exercises to keep yourself motivated, and find a person you trust who can keep you accountable while giving you encouragement. You’ll soon find that the feeling you get from regular exercise will become its own motivator—all while your body gets healthier and stronger.