Exercise Is for Life
By Drew McConaha
Movement is medicine, and exercise is a vehicle to living a longer, healthier and happier life. Exercise has been shown to improve all areas of our life — mentally, physically, and emotionally. Exercise, especially lifting weights, helps build strength, stronger bones and joints and more importantly, allows us to continue to do all the activities we love well into our later years.
Research on depression and anxiety shows the psychological and physical benefits that exercise can have on improving your mood and reducing anxiety while also decreasing stress and improving your quality of sleep. Exercise can help decrease stress and increase the quality of your sleep. Exercise can help build self-esteem and confidence. It’s amazing how doing something you didn’t think you would ever be capable of will do for your confidence.
I could go on and on about the benefits of exercise. Let’s talk about ways you can get started, be consistent with something you enjoy doing, and be able to do it your entire life. Exercise doesn’t have to be mundane and boring and it doesn’t have to leave your laying in a pool of sweat feeling like someone tried to kill you either. The key to a great exercise routine is to find something you enjoy doing and can do it consistently enough to make it part of your lifestyle.
The Best Exercise Is the One You’ll Stick to
Regular, moderate activities such as walking or biking have associated with increasing life expectancy by several years. Exercise like Zumba, cycling, and aerobics are fun and inviting to all ages. Helping our children to find a sport or activity early on that they enjoy greatly increases the likelihood that they will enjoy exercise later in life. The key is to try different activities and stick to what works for you.
No matter what any fitness professional, doctor or other health expert says, the best exercise is the one you can do regularly and long term. You’ll get results from any of them if you do it often enough, especially when it comes to mental health and general physical health.
Are some better than others for specific results? Sure, but we are here to discuss how to stick to an exercise regiment that will improve your health, longevity and vitality. The key to longevity is to follow a routine based on a lifetime of progression. We want to remember that each workout is part of a bigger picture. One specific workout isn’t going to get you to the goal, it’s a collection over time that gets you there. Incremental success will continue to improve over time with each exercise, workout and routine.
It’s Never Too Late
Haven’t been active in quite some time? It’s never too late to reap the benefits from an exercise routine.
Studies have found that people who are overweight or who have been inactive for years can increase their life expectancy by years just by adding a moderate physical activity to their daily routine.
I’ve been privileged to coach everyone from kids as young as 9 and 10 years old upwards to a woman who came to us at 92 years old after completing physical therapy for a fractured hip caused by a fall. She came to us to help build her strength so she could continue to do as much as she could on her own. She did exercises such as squats to a box, push ups, rows and even pushed a sled twice a week for 4 years after joining us.
Many people want to exercise to look better, but there’s so much more to exercise than the scale or how you look in the mirror. Lifting weights helps to gain muscle, maintain muscle mass, and strength. For many people that’s not a strong enough “Why?” In order to get them moving.
However, doing it for someone other than yourself often is much more inspirational to get you going and help you stay the course. Being fit is relative to the task at hand. Some of the most motivated individuals we’ve worked with are the ones who come to us to keep up with their children or grandchildren.
They want to have the strength to get up and down off the floor and the stamina to chase them around the yard. Exercising regularly with a structured program and progressive overload, consistently increasing the stimulus of weight or intensity a little at a time, will help you achieve those goals.
While lifting weights, the muscles and tendons apply tension to the bones, which stimulates the bone to produce more bone tissue. As a result, bones become stronger and more-dense, lowering the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. We all want to be strong enough to do the things we love and exercise can help you do just that. Taking part in activities we love doing helps to build a long life filled with health and happiness.
Exercise Your Way to Good Mental Health
People who exercise regularly have better mental health and have been shown to have lower rates of mental illness.
As someone who has struggled with this most of my life, whenever I’m struggling I return to the habits that make me feel good. Exercise has always been one of those things. It boosts your mood, concentration, and alertness. It can distract you from negative thoughts and build new opportunities for positivity and success. It helps build your confidence and self-esteem which are key to feeling good about yourself. Good health is more than just exercise and nutrition. It’s a mental attitude you have about who you are. Exercise certainly plays a major role in our physical health, but it may also be one of the best tools for your mental health.
Before starting any fitness routine, if you haven’t been active, be sure to talk with your doctor. Based on your health, he or she may have recommendations on the type of activity and how much to get you started. Remember, no matter your age, weight, or fitness level, there’s something for everyone. Also, a coach or instructor can help guide you on the right path to success.
If you didn’t know how to pour a foundation for a house, you wouldn’t try it yourself and then hire a contractor to build on top of it, would you? No, you’d hire a professional to do the job. Why are you attacking your health and fitness goals this way? Hire a coach to help guide you along your journey to be sure you’re picking the right exercises, weights, intensity and more for your body and your goals. Everyone can do something they enjoy to help live their best life, and with the right help, you’ll be sure to make the rest of your life the best of your life.
Drew McConaha is co-owner of Train for Life in Chicopee