This month, in our Healthy Living Series, we are going to discuss the importance of exercise.
Edited: If you want to grab your copy of the free ebook that has all 12 tips in one place, click the button below.
Exercise is probably my most dreaded task of the day. I’m not very good at getting myself to the gym, or even getting on the fancy Peloton exercise bike that sits in my office (it’s my husband’s).
But I have been researching lately about the benefits and importance of exercise for health, and there are many parts of the body that exercise can help.
Here are a list of 15 ways exercise helps your body:
- Strengthens & Tones Body: Exercising with weights and other forms of resistance training develops your muscles, bones and ligaments for increased strength and endurance. Your posture can be improved, and your muscles become more firm and toned. (Health Discovery)
- Controls Weight: Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. Consistency is key. (Mayo Clinic)
- Helps You Sleep Better: Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to hit the hay. (Mayo Clinic)
- Prevents/Helps Many Health Conditions and Diseases: Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Regular exercise helps prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, a number of types of cancer, arthritis and falls. (Mayo Clinic)
- Improves Mood: Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. (Mayo Clinic)
- Increases Flexibility: Stretching exercises are also important for good posture. They keep your body limber so that you can bend, reach and twist. Improving your flexibility through exercise reduces the chance of injury and improves balance and coordination. If you have stiff, tense areas, such as the upper back or neck, performing specific stretches can help “loosen” those muscles, helping you feel more relaxed. (Health Discovery)
- Boosts Energy: Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores. (Mayo Clinic)
- Improves Quality of Life: Once you begin to exercise regularly, you will discover many more reasons why exercise is so important to improving the quality of your life. Exercise reduces stress, lifts moods, and helps you sleep better. It can keep you looking and feeling younger throughout your entire life. (Health Discovery)
- Helps Build Stronger Bones & Muscles: Women are especially prone to a condition called osteoporosis (a weakening of the bones) as they get older. Studies have found that weight-bearing exercise — like jumping, running, or brisk walking — can help girls (and guys!) keep their bones strong. (Teens Health)
- Reduces Stress: One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Working up a sweat can help manage physical and mental stress. Exercise also increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. So go ahead and get sweaty — working out can reduce stress and boost the body’s ability to deal with existing mental tension. (Greatist)
- Helps You Age Well: Our bodies were meant to move — they actually crave exercise. Regular exercise is necessary for physical fitness and good health. It reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases. It can improve your appearance and delay the aging process. (Health Discovery)
- Improves Your Self Confidence: Hop on the treadmill to look like a million bucks. On a very basic level, physical fitness can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Regardless of weight, size, gender, or age, exercise can quickly elevate a person’s perception of his or her attractiveness, that is, self-worth. (Greatist)
- Boosts Creativity: A heart-pumping gym session can boost creativity for up to two hours afterwards. Next time you need a burst of creative thinking, hit the trails for a long walk or run to refresh the body and the brain at the same time. (Greatist)
- Increases Brain Function/Memory: As aging and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s kill off brain cells, the noggin actually shrinks, losing many important brain functions in the process. While exercise and a healthy diet can’t “cure” Alzheimer’s, they can help shore up the brain against cognitive decline that begins after age 45. Working out, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning. (Greatist)
- Increases Productivity: Research shows that workers who take time for exercise on a regular basis are more productive and have more energy than their more sedentary peers. While busy schedules can make it tough to squeeze in a gym session in the middle of the day, some experts believe that midday is the ideal time for a workout due to the body’s circadian rhythms. (Greatist)
After researching and compiling this list of AMAZING benefits to exercise, I would be crazy not to fit it into my daily routine! But how?
How To Make Exercise A Priority In Your Daily Schedule:
- Do it first thing in the morning: Have you ever heard of the phrase “Eat the Frog”? It just means that if you get the thing you don’t want to do done first thing in the morning, the rest of your day will be easy and you will be proud of yourself for getting that thing done. It is the same with exercise. If getting your exercise in is hard for you, then do it first thing in the morning so you don’t have to worry about it the rest of the day.
- Incorporate it into your daily activities: As homesteaders, there are many things that we do around the homestead that constitute exercise. Gardening, lifting bags of feed, stacking hay, etc are all types of exercise.
- Find an activity you love: Is there a sport or activity that you love to do? Maybe you love to listen to podcasts or music. You can do these things and exercise at the same time. Win-win!
- Include your kids or spouse: Exercising is more fun when you do it together. Go on a walk/run with your spouse or play soccer with your kids. Then you can have family time while getting your exercise too.
- Reward yourself: Make a plan and stick to it. If you do your exercise according to plan for the whole week, treat yourself to something fun. If you are exercising for weight loss, you might not want to pick a food treat. Instead you can pick time watching your favorite tv show or buying a new shirt. Hopefully it will motivate you to do it again the next week!
- Keep track of improvement: Write down your exercise goals. Keep track of your progress. Maybe the first day you can only run around the track one time. But write it down because in a week or two you may be able to double or triple that time. Keeping track will motivate you to increase your goals and follow your success.
As homesteaders and parents, fitting exercise into our already busy schedules can feel really overwhelming. I will be the first to admit, I’m not great at it either. But that’s okay! We can start it together.
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Now that school is back in session, I plan on working out 5 days a week. I hope to get it done in the morning, right after the kids go to school. That would be the best time for me. Whether that means going to the gym, getting on my husband’s Peloton, yard work or going for a walk, it doesn’t matter. Any exercise is better than nothing. So let’s get moving!
How do you incorporate exercise into your daily schedule? Please let us know in the comments below. And if you found this post helpful, please share. Thanks!