Regular exercise is essential for healthy living. It contributes to good health and a strong immune system, mostly through improved blood circulation and increased production of antioxidants.
Exercise can take on many forms- walking, jogging, swimming, weight lifting, dancing, stretching, yoga, pilates, bicycling, hiking. It can be the subtlest of movements like a neck roll stretch, or something more vigorous.
Some of the more well known benefits of moving and exercise, which mostly effect your body, include weight management, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, preventing diabetes and achieving better blood glucose control, strengthening your bones and muscles, reduced risk of certain cancers, improved cognition and blood flow to the brain, reduced risk of falls, and promoting longevity.
But movement also affects you on an emotional and energetic level. During exercise your body releases chemicals which reduce stress and improve mood. It also increases brain sensitivity for the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which can relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. Movement also increases the production of endorphins, which promote positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain.
Exercise also improves your sleep, which is another important factor for immune health. The energy depletion that occurs during exercise amplifies the regenerative processes that occur when you sleep. Studies show moderate exercise drastically improves sleep quality - in the form of deeper sleep, longer sleep, and more energy upon waking.
Even if you don’t have a large amount of time to devote to exercise, you can fit in smaller periods of movement throughout your day.
Take a 10 minute walk
Choose a far parking spot
Put on some music and dance for one or two songs
Use the stairs over the elevator
Use weights to strength train while watching TV
Devote 5 minutes before bedtime to stretch (or first thing in the morning while laying in bed).
Wake up 30 minutes earlier in the morning to have time to exercise
Find a way to invite more exercise into your life this week.