Isn’t it crazy how quickly things can change? How one minute you could be thinking about dinner, the upcoming summer holidays or worrying about a deadline. And then the next, your whole world is turned upside down.
Life certainly has a way of reminding us that we are not in control. When everything we know and everything we’ve built crumbles around us, we come to realize how much we are not in control. And this realization can leave us feeling powerless, overwhelmed, angry and hopeless.
But what if we could weather our personal storms like nature: with humility, gratitude, strength and perseverance. We could learn to rise from the ashes of a fire with renewed hope and strength. We could learn to navigate the twists and turns and roadblocks like water, patiently and persistently finding a way around.
Learning new ways of behaving or thinking in a situation is no simple task. But perhaps, at this time, we are presented with an opportunity to redefine how we want to interact with the world and with ourselves.
In this series, we will look at small changes we can make in our life, so we can strengthen our immune system and live a long, healthy and happy life.
Exercise has amazing benefits for the body and mind
“Health is the greatest of human blessings and walking is man’s best medicine.” Hippocrates
Health comprises social, physical and mental aspects. Positive health is not simply the absence of disease but the capacity to enjoy life and overcome challenges. Only a few lifestyle choices have as large an effect on mortality as physical activity.
A single session of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can reduce blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, improve sleep and reduce anxiety on the same day that it is performed. Most of these improvements become even larger with regular physical activity. Other benefits, which occur over days to weeks of consistent exercises, include decreased disease risk.
Exercise provides, not only physical benefits, but also mental benefits. Exercise improves memory, attention, the ability to plan and organize, to monitor, inhibit, or facilitate behaviors, initiate tasks, and control emotions. In youth, academic performance improves.
How much exercise is enough to get the benefits?
150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity are the recommended guidelines from the USA Physical Activity Guidelines 2019. Doing more is also okay and beneficial.
Even if you sit all day, your risk is the lowest for dying from cardiovascular disease or any other disease, if you do 60-75 minutes per day of moderate-intensity activities, or 30-40 minutes per day of vigorous-intensity activities.
Exercise periods of any length contribute to health benefits. Even short physical activity like climbing up a few flights of stairs counts towards your total daily and weekly amounts.
What is exercise intensity?
Intensity is different from one person to another. What is moderate intensity for one person, may be light intensity for another. As a rule of thumb, if you’re doing moderate-intensity activity you can talk, but not sing, during the activity. If you’re doing vigorous-intensity activity, you can’t say more than a few words.
Cardio versus strengthening exercise
Both aerobic exercise or cardio and muscle strengthening are beneficial.
When doing aerobic exercise, your heart beats faster and your breathing is also deeper and faster. It’s best to perform this kind of fitness activity at least 3x a week and best to spread it out over the week to minimize injury and fatigue.
Muscle strengthening or resistance training increases bone strength, muscle fitness and helps to increase or maintain muscle mass. It’s best to perform this kind of activity at least 2x a week and best to spread it out over the week to minimize injury and fatigue.
Bone strengthening exercises are important because they minimize the risk of fractures and help to keep your bones healthy! They can be aerobic or muscle strengthening exercises. The important factor is that the exercise is weight-bearing. Jumping jacks, walking, or running are all great examples of this type of exercise.
Balance and flexibility exercises are also good to include in your workout. Balance exercises help to minimize falls. Standing on one leg or using a wobble are examples of balance exercises. Muscle strengthening exercises also help to improve balance. Stretching exercises help to increase the range of motion at a joint allowing good movement.
Where to start?
Start small and build up. Find opportunities in your day to move more. Taking the stairs at home or at work is a great way. Go for a brisk walk on your lunch break or after dinner or in the morning when you wake up. Start with 10 minutes a day and build from there. Take advantage of the summer weather to be outside, while practicing safe social distancing.
If you’re missing some motivation or finding it hard to exercise alone, then virtual classes are another great way to get motivated and do an activity with a group. Many gyms offer their members virtual classes at this time. If you’re a gym member, find out from your local gym about any online activities going on. Many yoga and fitness studios have taken their practice outdoors at this time, so if you’re comfortable you can join. There are many online resources to help you find local events that are happening around you such as eventbrite, meetup, city or community webpages or social media pages.
Simple exercise workout you can do at home
One great online resource is www.onlinemeditationevents.com - All the events and programs are free and virtual so no matter where you are, you can join!
“Let’s Move: move and groove your way to release tension” is one of the programs offered every Monday and Wednesday from 3pm-3:45pm EST. It’s a free, live-guided, group exercise session run by Brandon and Erika. These classes are designed so that anyone can attend, from beginner to experienced exerciser.
Easy Full Body Workout
Here’s what people are saying about Let’s Move:
“I wish these classes could last forever!” Manou
“This was exactly what I needed.” First-time attendee
What you can expect when you join
The classes are welcoming, fun and you’re sure to leave feeling lighter and calmer!
Brandon guides the strength training and brings his many years of experience in the fitness industry to help you through a series of strengthening exercises, no equipment needed. On Wednesdays, Erika, with over 10 years of dance experience, will guide you through an easy-to-follow dance sequence sure to get your heart pumping.
Let’s Move exercise class is broken down into three parts. The first part is 20 minutes of releasing exercises. Because we sit so much, many parts of our body don’t move as they are supposed to. These exercises target every part of our body from head to toe, increasing blood flow which brings in vital nutrients and takes out waste helping our body to heal. After doing just these exercises you’ll feel more alert and have more energy. These exercises also help increase flexibility as they move each body part through its full range of motion.
The second part is a dance called “Best Health Dance.” Again this dance encourages you to move all parts of your body from head to toe. You can do it vigorously or lightly, the intensity is up to you so it offers great overall fitness.
The third part, depending on the day, is muscle strengthening (remember our bone strength, balance and muscle strength) or zumba (bone strength, balance, muscle strength and aerobic).
This 45 minute class will check all the boxes; combining aerobic exercise, muscle strengthening, bone strengthening, balance, flexibility and you reach your daily exercise amount goal!
Take home message: some is better than none
People who are physically active for approximately 150 minutes a week have a 33% lower risk of all-cause mortality (dying from any cause including heart disease and some cancers) than those who are not physically active.
Exercise periods of any length contribute to health benefits. Even small amounts like climbing up a few flights of stairs counts towards the total amount.
Move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Sitting less and doing any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity leads to health benefits.
Remember that putting too high expectations on yourself can stop you from achieving your goals. So keep it realistic and start small. It’s about building a lifestyle, so you can live a longer, healthier and happier life.
USA Physical Activity Guidelines 2019 https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf
Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/circulationaha.109.914721
Exercise Training Improves Memory
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.