Our bodies are made to move. Unfortunately, with our jobs as desk jockeys, our bodies are more often carriers for our heads. We have lost the important connection of mind-body. Research has shown that we process information better when we have sensory input and body motion. Going for a walk is often a good way to clear your head. We are meant to be integrated beings. As such, body motion through exercise is important to overall health, including mental health.
Research has shown that physical activity improves your physical health and overall well-being. It reduces stress, strengthens the heart and lungs, increases energy levels and helps you maintain and achieve a healthy body weight. It will help you feel good about yourself and contribute positively to your body image and self-esteem.
A balanced exercise program should consist of some cardiovascular exercise, some muscular strength and endurance exercise and some stretching. Swimming, aquafit classes or group fitness classes, such as aerobics, provide all three. Cycling, running or speed walking are good cardio exercises; yoga and Pilates are good for strength and flexibility. You may need to combine activities to balance your program.
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends in its Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines that adults accumulate at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
If you are not used to exercise, try 15 minutes, 3 times a week, and increase after 2 weeks. If you haven’t exercised in a while, consult your doctor for advice on how to start exercising and to have a complete medical examination, if needed.
It is important to match your exercise level to your health level. I can’t do the full contact karate that I was doing at 15 years of age. Yoga is more my speed now.
If you want to become more active in your everyday life, consult the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Tips to Get Active for children, youth, adults and older adults to help you make wise choices about physical activity (www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/hl-mvs/pa-ap/index-eng.php). Physical activities will improve your health, help prevent disease and enable you to get the most out of life.
Physical activity is something that everyone can do. Look for simple ways to be physically active every day!