Healthy Habit Highlight: Exercise

We all know that exercise improves our physical health but it can also improve mental health as well. Physical activity stimulates the release of certain positive chemicals that help boost your mood and allow you to relax. If you exercise regularly, it can also help you feel better about your body and boost your confidence. But if you are a newcomer to regular exercise, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are answers to some of the biggest exercise questions you might have to help you get started.


How much should I be exercising?

How much exercise you need really depends on your level of health and personal goals. Your doctor can help you figure out what the right amount for you is but generally, getting 30-60 minutes of exercise about 5 times a week is a strong, healthy routine for most people. If your busy schedule won’t accommodate this, you might try exercising for smaller bursts of time more frequently, say 10 minutes at a time, several times throughout the day. But most of all, don’t get discouraged. A little exercise, even if it’s short of your goal, is better than no exercise.


What types of exercise are there?

There are several different types of exercise that you can do. The three most common are aerobic, weight-bearing and strength training.

Aerobic exercise focuses on large muscle groups and is also called cardio work. Some examples include hiking, dancing, biking, running, swimming, and rowing. Weight-bearing exercise utilizes the force of gravity to improve bone strength. Some possible exercises include yoga, tennis, and climbing stairs. Strength training is a form of weight-bearing exercise that helps build muscle strength. If you are using an exercise machine or lifting weights, then you are taking part in strength training. Push-ups, crunches, squats and pull-ups are also examples of strength training.


How do I motivate myself to stick with it?

First off, you can motivate yourself by choosing activities that you enjoy. There are many different ways of getting physical activity so don’t limit yourself to running if that’s not what engages you. Try yoga, kickboxing, tennis, swimming, aerobics or take a dance class. Experiment until you find what works for you and don’t be afraid to switch things up now and then. This can help you from getting bored with your routine.

If you need someone to help keep you on track, invite a friend to exercise with you. You’ll be less likely to skip out if you know someone else is counting on you.

Also, keep in mind that results most likely won’t be immediate. Don’t let yourself give up early on because you’re not seeing improvements yet.


How can I stay safe while I exercise?

Safety and injury prevention are key to a beneficial workout routine. Be careful not to push yourself too hard too soon. Start things off slowly with a simple exercise activity that you feel completely comfortable with such as walking. Overtime, you can increase the duration and intensity of this starting activity and move on to more complex physical activities.

No matter what activity you choose to do, always start with a warm up to help prepare your muscles and joints for the stress of working out. A good warm up is usually about 5 to 10 minutes long and includes some light stretching and some cardio to get your heart rate up. Don’t forget to cool down after you’re done exercising also. Cool down is just as important to your safety as the warm up.
As you exercise, be aware of how your body is feeling. Feeling dizzy, out of breath, or nauseous might be signs of problems or injuries and you should stop exercising immediately and address these problems.

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