By Nyomi Graef
For some of us exercise is a chore, for others it’s a joy. We all know exercise is good for us, but most of us don’t do enough for good health. Doctors estimate that between 65% and 85% of the world’s population fail to exercise enough.
There are plenty of excuses not to exercise, the most common being “I don’t have time”. Make time. If we can do non-essential things, we can exercise. It’s vital for health, fitness and happiness.
The benefits are worth it. Professor Mario Maranhao, president of the World Heart Federation said, “Moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk for 30 minutes most days, helps control weight, cuts stress, anxiety and depression.”
In fact studies show that jogging for 30 minutes three times a week can be as good as psychotherapy in treating depression; and there’s more good news. If jogging isn’t for you, any type of exercise can reduce depressive symptoms.
For health and happiness we need exercise as much as we need to sleep, breathe and eat.
How can exercise enhance health, happiness and fitness?
We can gain a tremendous number of benefits from exercise. Exercise can:
- help treat anxiety and depression
- reduce stress and feelings of anger
- improve concentration and memory
- increase confidence and self esteem
- improve the immune system
- enhance metabolism
- help prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers
- improve muscle tone
- strengthen bones
- help with weight loss and weight maintenance
- improve quality of sleep
- increase energy levels
- improve balance, coordination and agility
- reduce high blood pressure
- reduce high cholesterol
Still don’t feel like exercising? Here’s some food for thought: the World Heart Federation has warned that failure to exercise is as bad for health as smoking a packet of cigarettes every day!
How much exercise do we need to beat depression?
The Mayo Clinic in U.S.A. says research suggests that to significantly improve depression symptoms, people might need to do at least 30 minutes of exercise a day at least three to five days a week. Less exercise, as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time, can improve mood in the short term. Dr. Vickers-Douglas says, “Small bouts of exercise may be a great way to get started if it’s initially too hard to do more.”
Remember, we need to continue exercising to reap the benefits.
If we can, for extra health benefits also do some vigorous exercise a few times a week.
Experts recommend that children do at least an hour of moderate exercise everyday for good health.
What type of exercise is best for extra happiness?
The American Psychological Association has highlighted key results of research that analyzed 80 studies of exercise and depression. The research team concluded that although walking and jogging were the most frequent forms of exercise researched, all types of exercise reduced depression to some degree. The longer the exercise program and the more exercise sessions, the greater the decrease in depression.
What are some tips to enjoy exercise?
Obviously if exercise is fun you are likely to continue doing it; if it’s not fun you will probably stop. How can you enjoy exercise more? Try these tips.
- Choose something you like. You might have to try a few different exercises until you find one you enjoy, but it’s worth the effort.
- To prevent boredom, do more than one type of exercise.
- Exercise with friends.
- Exercise to music.
- Gradually build up your level of fitness. If you do too much too soon you could suffer aches and pains and stop exercising all together.
- Join an exercise group. There are plenty to choose from including martial arts, aerobics, running and walking groups.
- Do a team sport. You might make friends in your team – a boost for happiness.
- Exercise in beautiful surroundings – in the park, on the beach, in the mountains… instead of in front of the TV.
- Set realistic and achievable exercise goals. Whether it’s losing weight or toning muscles, you’ll feel a sense of pride and accomplishment achieving your goals.
- Challenge obstacles to exercise. If it’s raining and you want to go for a walk, wear wet-weather gear or exercise indoors instead. If you can’t join a gym, then walk and lift weights at home.
Regular exercise is vital. Just half an hour of moderate exercise on most days of the week can make a big difference to your health, happiness and fitness.
Enjoy exercise and make it part of your lifestyle today!
Also see: The benefits of gratitude