Get Moving: How an Active Life Improves Health
Category: Healthy Living
Posted on June 26, 2021
Scott is passionate about health and wellness, and enjoys writing on various topic surrounding these fields. Scott lives in Seattle and spends his free time restoring old furniture and playing pickleball with his friends.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 80% of Americans aren't exercising enough. Of that number, 25% aren't exercising at all.
With numbers like this, it's no wonder that we're feeling so unhealthy these days.
Physical activity and mindful movement are crucial for wellness. Just a little bit every day can change how your body feels, moves, and responds to stressors like illness.
With benefits like that, you might be wondering if this is something that is accessible to you and your lifestyle. Get moving with our tips for living a healthier, more active life. With our guide, anyone can become better than yesterday.
What an Active Lifestyle Looks Like
Living healthy doesn't mean that you need to rise at 5:00 am every day to attend an expensive spinning class (although this kind of routine has its perks). For most, making small, consistent changes can change how your body feels and functions for the rest of your life.
You do not need to struggle through two hours of CrossFit in order to improve your health. Simply moving every day to get your heart rate up can work wonders for your cardiovascular and mental health. Get moving for at least 30 minutes every day-- we promise you'll feel it in your body.
Do What You Enjoy
Don't force yourself to show up to something that you dread or that impacts your energy for the worse. While it's important to push yourself, an active lifestyle should feel good. Find a physical hobby that you enjoy, and you'll be more likely to show up every day for that activity.
Enjoying Movement Safely
Like with any kind of physical activity, staying active can sometimes pose a risk to certain individuals. Make sure to choose an activity that feels good in your body, and be sure to warm up and stretch at the appropriate moments. A little bit of preparation and recovery can work wonders for injury prevention and residual soreness.
Benefits of Staying Active
The benefits of staying active are endless. These are just some of our favorites.
Are you looking for more recreation-based movement in your life? Physical fitness is a rewarding and challenging pastime, one that can be shared with friends, family, and members of a time. Joining a gym or a recreational athletic team can work wonders for your social life as you meet friendly faces who share similar interests and goals.
Even if you're just working out on your own, moving your body can feel fun. Following along to a guided workout routine or taking a walk around the block on a beautiful sunny day can be a great way to decompress for a lot of people.
2. Get Stronger
When you challenge your body to move or work in ways it's not used to, the muscle goes through a change called hypertrophy. When you constantly ask the body to perform under this kind of challenge, the tiny fibers of the muscle will tear or become damaged. This is an entirely normal part of the muscle-building process.
When the body repairs these tears, the muscles become large and stronger as additional fibers are fused together. This process can occur during most physical activity but is the most successful during:
- Strength training with free weights
- Stationary weightlifting machines training
- Resistance band or bodyweight activities
Consistency is key to becoming stronger. Even if you aren't interested in becoming a bodybuilder or competitive weightlifter, strength training can improve the general health of all participants.
3. Mental Health
Scientists have long studied the connection between physical and mental health. Illnesses like depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses have been found to be better managed when movement is incorporated into daily life. Some doctors prescribe regular aerobic exercise as a type of treatment for depression and other mental illnesses.
Why? Cardiovascular exercise suppresses the uncomfortable "fight-or-flight" response created by the sympathetic nervous system. These are typically considered to be "stress responses", and can be calmed and subdued by intentional physical activity.
Exercise also increases the levels of "feel-good" neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters--also known as endorphins--provide the "rush" that makes a person feel amazing after a run or an exercise class.
4. Ward Off Chronic Illness
Along with supporting general heart health through aerobic and cardiovascular exercise, moving your body can help prevent a list of other chronic diseases. Some of these non-cardiovascular diseases include:
- Type 2 diabetes
If you're currently living with chronic illness, make sure you consult with your doctor before trying a brand new or high-impact exercise. It's best to start slow-- you don't worsen your symptoms or put yourself at greater risk for injury.
5. Feel Confident
We'll just come right out and say it-- moving your body can transform the way you walk through life and how you feel in your body. This confidence can then transfer over to many areas of your life, including work, relationships, and other hobbies or skills you may have learned (or want to learn!).
Increasing the amount of mindful body movement that you do will help to improve your movement patterns and your comfortability with any physical activity. Practicing consistent aerobic exercise will re-teach your body how to move and play like it could when you were a kid. It can increase your strength, flexibility, and confidence.
While there are a lot of reasons to incorporate aerobic exercise into your daily routine, many people are attracted to the weight loss opportunities that movement provides.
Weight loss occurs when the body reaches a caloric deficit. A caloric deficit means that the body burning more calories than it is consuming in order to sustain energy. When an individual reaches a caloric deficit, they typically lose weight and alter their body composition. This is because a caloric deficit requires the body to turn to its fat stores in order to generate energy.
6. Brain Function
Studies have shown that exercise has a high impact on improving brain function in adults. During exercise, the brain creates and releases proteins that are essential to growing nerve cells and connections in the brain. These neural pathways are essential for optimal brain health and performance.
Exercise can affect the brain both directly and indirectly. By reducing stress and improving sleep, this type of exercise helps with one's memory and critical thinking skills. This type of movement will also help the brain work by challenging it with new skills and movement patterns that become muscle memory.
Some exercises have been known to improve:
- Planning and reacting
- Working memory
- Attention and focus
- Problem-solving and critical thinking
- Verbal reasoning
Like with most movement philosophies, you don't have to exert yourself beyond your abilities in order to reap the benefits. Taking a 30-minute walk during your lunch break is a great way to stay sharp for the rest of the workday. Regular practice may transform the way your brain is even able to function at work!
7. Live Life to Its Fullest Potential
Physical fitness and daily movement can get us out of our unhealthy routines and habits by mindfully prioritizing the body. When we show up for ourselves and honor our bodies every day, we begin to practice mindfulness in other areas of our life.
Daily movement can encourage healthy eating, healthy relationships, healthy sleep patterns, and other healthy routines as we work to support our new hobby. It is a fantastic way to get your day started on a high note, and an even better way to encourage deep sleep after a long day of exertion.
8. Lower Risk of Cancer
Exercise is considered to be an effective daily supplement to lower the risk of many types of cancers.
According to studies, exercise can contribute to the prevention of bladder, breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, stomach, and uterine cancer.
Why? Exercise is truly a miracle drug as it works to reduce inflammation, blood sugar irregularities, and improves metabolism and immune function-- all risk factors for many types of cancer.
For those diagnosed in the early stages of cancer, exercise is often prescribed to aid with symptoms of breast, colon, and prostate cancer. This is because exercise is often associated with increasing quality of life, and decreasing pain.
9. Stress Relief
Fitness and daily movement improve stress by reducing stress hormones and increasing the production of endorphins. Because it decreases the impact of the fight-or-flight response, an individual may not feel the effects of stress while they are performing an activity. In a way, it's almost like moving meditation!
Any aerobic activity is best for increasing endorphins in the body, although activities like yoga and pilates have been known for their calming effects. This is because the breathing techniques that are required for such activities can help to regulate one's heart rate, and manage feelings of anxiety.
In other words, movement puts you in control.
There is no perfect blueprint for how you should approach mindful, daily movement. There are endless options for those looking to improve their quality of life through exercise and physical recreation.
Aerobic exercise is most commonly referred to as "cardio." It is cardiovascular conditioning that results in the increase of breathing intensity and heart rate. The benefits are usually associated with sustained activities, are most commonly associated with running, jumping, or anything that requires a little bit of respiratory or cardiovascular endurance.
Examples of aerobic exercises include:
- Walking at a brisk pace (for heart benefits)
- Water aerobics
- Casual, social dancing or dance breaks
- Gardening or light housework
- Doubles tennis
- Cross country skiing
- Certain types of yoga
The word "aerobic" literally means "with oxygen." Unlike stretching and certain types of resistance training, aerobic exercise allows the lungs to take in more oxygen as one's breathing increases.
Unlike aerobic exercises, anaerobic exercise involves short, quick bursts of movement and muscle engagement. These types of exercises are typically considered to be "high-intensity," as they are performed in much shorter blocks of time.
Examples of anaerobic exercises include:
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Heavy weight lifting
- Plyometrics, jump squats, or box jumps
- Sprints while running, cycling or swimming
Because anaerobic literally means "without oxygen," these exercises are meant to be performed in short bursts, followed by periods of rest. Due to the demands anaerobic exercise place on the body, these exercises are highly effective when it comes to speed and agility training, as well as weight loss.
If you're looking for opportunities to get moving but aren't a fan of traditional exercise options, don't worry! With a little bit of research, you'll find that there are plenty of healthy options for everyone.
Some of our favorites include:
- Rock climbing
- Solo dance parties in your room
- Cleaning the house (we promise it counts)
- Non-traditional fitness classes like burlesque, floating mat yoga, silks class
We encourage you to try one new type of fitness class or activity a month! Mixing up your fitness routine can work wonders for those who struggle to stay engaged.
Get moving-- even it's just 30 minutes every day! We promise that your energy will feel better, your sleep quality will improve, and that you'll be setting up yourself for a healthier future.
We know a thing or two about wellness. For more lifestyle tips on how to improve and maintain your health, check out our blog. It could be the best thing you can do for your health all day!
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