10 Things Fitness Can Do For You!

Bonnie Murphy

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Exercise is the most widely prescribed “pill" today. There is more and more research about the benefits of being fit. Here are just a few of those benefits that you'll receive when you make exercise a part of your daily life.

  • improve your cardio vascular function (heart and lungs)
  • build and repair your bones
  • stabilize your blood sugar
  • increase your strength
  • improve your balance
  • reduce your body fat
  • elevate your mood
  • create flexibility
  • increase your lean body mass
  • reduce your stress levels

    Imagine if you could improve the workings of your heart and lungs without drugs. You can improve their functions by challenging them with aerobic type exercises. The definition of aerobic exercise is anything that elevates your heart rate moderately for a prolonged period of time. An example might be riding a bike for 7 or 8 miles at 65-70 RPMS or approximately 10 miles an hour. If you are more of a walker then walking at about 4 miles an hour for 30 to 45 minutes will improve your cardio vascular system. The thing for you to remember is that consistency is the key to getting healthier!! According to the Academy of Sports Medicine (ACSM) you can do and should do cardio exercises most days of the week for 30 to 45 minutes.

    If you are just starting a fitness routine and have been inactive for a while; you can divide up your 30 minutes into 3 ten minute sessions. This is to get you started. You will eventually want to work up to doing the whole 30 to 45 minutes continuously. Remember, you are never too old or too sedentary to start an exercise program…. you just have to be smart about it!!

    Osteoporosis is the buzz word of the 90’s and beyond. This is a serious disease that destroys bone mass. Exercise is always prescribed for the prevention and retardation of this life threatening disease. When you impact your bones consistently, they get stronger by rebuilding. The stimulation makes them respond and rebuild. Jump roping is an ideal way of impacting bone. Strength training helps retard osteoporosis by making your muscles stronger which in turns makes your bones stronger to support the new strength of the muscles.

    All Diabetic doctors recommend exercise because they see how important movement is to controlling blood sugar. Each patient is different and should listen to their doctor as to how much exercise and how often.

    Keeping strong can keep you independent. I just talked to a girl who is 35 years old and is on disability. Her problem was that she let herself gain a tremendous amount of weight and she became disabled. She couldn’t do anything for herself. She was stubborn enough to get herself turned around and she has lost about 160 pounds and she is getting into exercise. She has a goal of another 200 pound loss. She was telling me how great it is now to be able to carry groceries up to her apartment. She can do the stairs now when before she was unable to go out of her apartment without assistance.

    Balance is something that is lost over time. Somewhere in our 30’s we begin to lose our sense of balance. Again, we can improve on that loss by challenging ourselves. Stand on one foot and count to 10. Simple little exercises can be done to tackle our losses. I think that we get too serious as we get older and we avoid walking on cement walls or curbs because we don’t want to embarrass ourselves. Maybe because we stop playing we just get old.

    You probably notice that when you take care of yourself and exercise, you do improve how you feel about yourself. Your whole day seems to go better when you know that you are doing something positive to take control of your health and well being.

    Stretching at the end of each exercise session will improve your flexibility. Only stretch when your muscles are warm. Flexibility is an important part of being fit. When you can easily bend down and tie your shoe or even put your shoe on for that matter, it means that you are flexible. Just to do every day type things, you need to be able to bend and stoop. All these things are part of being flexible.

    Fat loss and lean body gain are two of the main reasons people exercise other than for the health benefits. When you engage in cardio vascular exercises for most days a week you are actually using your fat stores, especially if you do a long warm-up and stay at a moderate pace. When you do strength training you are creating more lean body mass consequently making yourself smaller and stronger. A pound of muscle takes up a lot less space than a pound of fat. When you have a lot of lean body mass you use a lot more calories just being you.

    Stress can kill. It’s been proven that stress is a killer. When you exercise, the stress just seems to leave your body and it’s replaced with endorphins that give you a sense of euphoria. What a pleasant thing to look forward to as you go to the gym or get ready for a run outside. On the days you don’t feel like exercising just tell yourself that you only have to do 10 minutes…. you’ll continue and you’ll be so glad that you did!!

    I have just listed about 10 things that being fit can do for you. There are many, many more benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle. Why not try it and see how many things you can find that it does for you.

    I know four things that I didn’t mention that are probably the most important. Consistency with exercise will lower blood pressure and lowers LDL (bad) Cholesterol. I’ve even read where being active can reduce the risks of Breast Cancer and Heart disease. Those two things by themselves ought to give you the motivation to get on a fitness program.

    Remember, when you choose a program or regimen be sure it’s something that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing it’s been proven that you won’t stay with it for very long!!

    Bonnie Murphy is certified through the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). She has been in Anchorage since 1968 and has been in the fitness business 27 years. In May of 2006 she was chosen as Fitness Ambassador to Alaska by the 50-Plus Lifelong Fitness organization. Bonnie was recently interviewed by Rebecca Sheir of the AK show of APRN. Bonnie writes regularly for Alaska Wellness magazine, Alaska Women Speak, has written two e-books about exercise and aging, publishes a monthly e-newsletter, and has various fitness articles posted on the Web. Contact me at 907.229.7652 Email: bonnie@bfitandwell.com Website: http://www.bfitandwell.com

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