#HealthyHabits May: Exercise Daily

They say a habit takes 21 days to make and only 3 days to break. We believe that healthy habits can help to create an overall lifestyle that can aid in a long and happy life. We aren't talking about momentous tasks, but simple things you can do to be the healthiest version of yourself. Each month, we will offer a different healthy habit for you to challenge yourself to stick with.

May's Healthy Habit: Exercise Daily

Spring has officially sprung in Central Ohio. The temperature is finally rising, the "spring showers" have arrived and we are preparing for the (hopefully) warmer, sunnier days ahead. As everyone seemingly awakens from 'Winter Hibernation', we see sidewalks and trails get busier with bikes, runners and puppy dogs all sharing the space. The common theme as everyone unthaws is this: it's time to get moving. While we LOVE seeing everyone out-and-about, we are here to kindly remind you that exercise is something that should happen every day, all year long!

On average, only 23% of Americans get enough exercise, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. Federal physical activity guidelines recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week, in addition to muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week. Let's break this down- 75 minutes of vigorous exercise over 7 days is a little over just 10 minutes a day- something just about any one of us can do!

Whether it's a High Intensity Interval Training workout at one of our group fitness classes, or taking a walk through the neighborhood, getting moving every day doesn't just make you feel good-  it's necessary for your health.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are multiple benefits to regular physical activity, here are the top 6 reasons to get active:

1. Exercise 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. Regular trips to the gym are great, but don't worry if you can't find a large chunk of time to exercise every day. Any amount of activity is better than none at all.

2. Exercise combats health conditions and diseases: Regular exercise helps prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, many types of cancer, arthritis and falls. It can also help improve cognitive function and helps lower the risk of death from all causes.

3. Exercise improves mood: Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A gym session or brisk walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier, more relaxed and less anxious. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

4. Exercise 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.

5. Exercise promotes better sleep: Struggling to snooze? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, get better sleep and deepen your sleep. Just don't exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to go to sleep.

6. Exercise can be fun… and social! Exercise and physical activity can be enjoyable. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting.

Now you're all excited and ready to exercise, you must be thinking, okay, where do I start? While we, of course, want you to come to the Y (we have 13 convenient locations around Central Ohio, btw!), there are many other ways to get in exercise. 

  • Take the Stairs! It's all about the little things- whether you take the stairs instead of elevator or park at the furthest spot in the grocery store lot, smalls things can add up. And, we promise, hiking up a few flights of stairs WILL get your blood pumping! 
  • Start Small. Maybe deciding to take the stairs instead of the elevator is where you start, that's great- it's a start! Setting goals for yourself that are obtainable is key to your success. When you make grand goals, you tend to get brunt out long before you can reach them. Remember, each small goal is a step further towards those big ones. Health and wellness is a never ending journey, you've got plenty of time to add in new goals as they come.
  • Find what you like. There are thousands of different kinds of workouts, don't limit yourself to endless hours on the treadmill. Take a class, go rock climbing, do something different- you might find an exercise you actually look forward to doing.
  • Try a something new. Like we said above, exercise CAN be fun, if you find something you like. You're only going to find what you like by trying something new. There are so many different kinds of classes you can take, trails you can hike, miles of beautiful country you can bike, just to name a few. Get out of your comfort zone- find something you might be intimidated to try, and try it anyway! You will quickly find, you are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for. 
  • Make a bucket list. So maybe you can't go from couch to Olympian in 3 weeks (or maybe you can!?), but you can make a list of things you would like to accomplish on this journey. You could want to run a 5K or go on a bike trip- pick some bigger goals and some smaller ones- write 'em down and check 'em off!
  • Find workout buddy. Everything is more fun with a friend! When you find someone who has common interest and will hold you accountable, you have a higher chance of long term success. Having a support system can make all the difference. 
  • Stay Consistent. Consistency is key- commit to doing something every day and actually follow through. Eventually, you will find that exercise is now a part of your routine and like anything else, you feel a bit 'off' if you aren't doing it daily. We promise, the couch will still be there for you to crash on after- and it will be so much more rewarding relaxation!                                                                                                                                 

So, take the class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find what you enjoy- and go do it! 

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