Benefits of Exercise
This may surprise you, but only about 12% of Americans exercise regularly. That means that 88% of us aren’t getting enough exercise, as that includes the people who do it sporadically or not at all. Most of us have heard of the health benefits—better sleep, better moods, more energy, and weight loss, just to name a few. Others include improving our ability to handle stress and lessening its effects, aiding insulin imbalances, helping our motivation, and even reducing inflammation. These are some incredible benefits, and these just scratch the surface!
It’s shocking how few of us are actually doing it…
…Or is it so shocking? I happen to be one of the people who needs to exercise more, and statistically, you probably are too. My main reason for not exercising? I’m busy! You may share this problem, which most of us seem to; or you may have health challenges that make many forms of exercise difficult. Whatever the reasons, they’re keeping 88% of us from getting enough exercise.
Part of this is that we have a stigma attached to it. We think exercising means having a gym membership and actually going to the gym regularly. We think it’s running, lifting weights, yoga, aerobics, or the latest workout dance craze. But what would you say if I told you that anything you do that gets you moving your body is better than nothing? What would you say if I told you that in order to exercise enough to see some health benefits, all you had to do was walk 30 minutes a day? What would you say that exercise can look like having fun—playing!?! This is something that we understand at an unconscious, instinctual level as children. Put little children in the back yard, and watch what they do—they run all over the place. They jump for no good reason, roll around, and make impromptu obstacle courses of your lawn furniture.
Until we’ve been conditioned to think fun comes from a screen, we think it involves moving around. And let me tell you, this kind of play is exactly what we should all be trying to do. You don’t need to crank out the reps at a gym to gain some health benefits; you just need to find your inner child and simply get moving! If you have kids, take them to the park or just go into the back yard with them; watch them, and then imitate. Monkey see, monkey do—except instead of them modeling you, it’s your turn to learn from them. Your lesson: to learn how to run and jump and play like a kid.
You may not have access to pint-sized personal trainers, or you may be older and unable to keep up with a child’s back yard acrobatics. To you I say, find somewhere nice to walk and get moving. Crank out 30 minutes, push yourself as much as your body will allow as you walk, and keep at it every day. Feeling more ambitious? Play a little tennis, some friendly basketball, get out the soccer ball, or go crazy with some ultimate Frisbee. If you are moving, you’re on the right track.
A friend recently shared about getting his daughter a device called Kinect for their X-Box. This attachment has cameras on it that see your body position and motion, and he reports having a great deal of fun playing with his daughter—and that some of the games are very good physical exercise!
The health benefits of exercise are extensive, and the options are nearly endless. Inside or outside, rain or shy, there’s something you can do today to start getting more exercise. In fact, my challenge to you is that you don’t let this day end without taking a “step” in the right direction—get out and walk today. If you can’t do 30 minutes, that’s OK; do what you can. But do it today. Join the 12%!