Over the last few months, I’ve used “Move Right Mondays” as a time to introduce you to some exercises you can do anywhere – at home, at the office, in the gym – and get some fantastic results. I designed the movements to be simple and easy for most people to do, and people I’ve talked to have been really excited about them. Some are seeing improvements in their flexibility and balance, and a noticeable reduction in back pain.
Still, some folks are unconvinced. In spite of fifty years of progress in our culture around exercise and wellness, some people still don’t see the value of exercise.
I understand. It can be hard work and it demands a certain level of commitment to be consistent with it. In fact, a lot of the way exercise is marketed makes it look painful and complicated. I wouldn’t want to do many of the exercises I see going on in local gyms.
But what these folks see is all the work (and a bunch of myths) and none of the benefits, and that’s a shame. I want to take today’s “Move Right Monday” took revisit some of the real benefits of simple exercises. Some of them may surprise you.
7 Benefits to Regular Simple Exercise
1. Improved muscle tone and flexibility.
Have you ever sprained an ankle and spent time on crutches? Have you ever tried to help a friend move furniture and the next day felt like you couldn’t move? These kinds of muscle injuries are largely preventable with some simple stretches you can do in your bedroom before you hit the shower. Plus, the kind of muscle tone people spend a fortune at the gym to achieve is actually attainable at home. I’ll show you how.
2. Improved blood flow and heart health.
Your heart is a muscle – actually an entire ecosystem of muscles – and if that muscle stops working, you die. Your heart has to pump upwards of seven liters of blood through a thousand miles of tubes, some of which are smaller than an eyelash. Those hoses can get clogged, pinched off, or hardened and brittle. You may have heard it said, “In your first 40 years, you spend your health to gain your wealth, and in your last 40 years you spend your wealth to regain your health.” Your heart is a big part of that. Heart disease, stroke, arteriosclerosis, and blocked arteries are all dangerous diseases in this very complex and fragile system, and they are all largely preventable. Exercise (along with managing the things you put in your mouth) helps keep that system strong and healthy for a lifetime. And it doesn’t cost a thing.
3. Burn off fat.
Not all exercise is created equal – we’ll talk about the differences between different types of motions – but as a rule, when you move, your body burns fat, just like a car burns fuel to run. Some people are covered with “fuel” and they never do anything about it. Some people do exercises every day and the fat never seems to leave. By and large, “burning off fat” is one of the biggest reasons people give for starting an exercise routine, but there’s more to it than sweatpants and expensive shoes. As we go deeper in this series, we’ll talk about different types of exercises, including those that are most effective at burning off fat.
4. Flushes cortisol and other toxic chemicals out of your system.
You know that gut you’ve been trying to get rid of for years? Do you know what it’s made of? It’s made of stress. When your body is under stress, it releases a short burst of chemicals, like adrenaline and cortisol, activating your neuromuscular system to respond to danger by either fighting or running away. It’s your body’s own civil defense system, and it works. But like anything other good thing, too much of it can be dangerous. Your body can flush out short bursts of cortisol after it’s done using it, but prolonged stress keeps the cortisol faucet open. If you don’t release it, the cortisol gets stored in the fatty tissues around your midsection, where it becomes toxic waste, literally making you sick. Certain types of exercise help your body flush out the cortisol.
5. Improved mental function.
More and more research is showing that sitting all day in front of a computer and all night in front of a TV deadens your mental response to stimulation (not to mention what it does to your backside). Short periods of high-intensity movement can release healthy neurotransmitters in your brain that promote alertness, recognition and memory retention. I’ve also started seeing Alzheimer’s and dementia research that points to a close relationship between simple exercise and cognitive health. A simple walk around the block tonight can help you protect your mental acuity later in life.
6. Improved mood.
The last time you tried to exercise, you may have walked away feeling like you had been ambushed by thugs. That’s probably why you haven’t been back. I totally get that. There’s a place for strenuous workout in a complete fitness plan, but for the most part, exercise should make you feel like a million bucks. That’s why so many executives, especially those in high-pressure situations, have very strict exercise regimens. While your body is flushing out cortisol, it’s also releasing endorphines, the feel-good neurotransmitters that lets your brain know you’re feeling great. Exercise should make you feel like you’ve been climbing the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art with Rocky Balboa. Go ahead and pump your fists in the air!
One of the biggest health mistakes Americans make is loading up on sugar in the afternoon to prop themselves up because their energy has run dry. On “Wellness Wednesday,” we show you some simple exercises and some diet hacks that will not only help you maintain your energy later in the day, but will also help you to stay active when others are running out of steam.
Just The Beginning
Here at Fundamental Health, we consider ourselves “wellness coaches,” and our whole purpose is to help you “Move Right, Eat Right, Think Right, and Live Right.” Join us here each week for “Move Right Mondays.” The purpose of this blog is to share simple lifestyle tips that you can apply immediately and see results in your life, and I believe every article will have something that will help you in a practical way. But even if an article doesn’t apply to you directly, I bet you know someone who could benefit from it, so I hope you’ll take a few seconds to share these with a friend or post them on Facebook.
I’ll look forward to seeing you here.
“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas