There is no better time to get and stay active than right now. Regardless of age or physical ability, nearly everyone can enjoy the health benefits of adding exercise into their daily routines.
Most of us know that exercise is a great way to jumpstart a weight loss program and manage weight, but engaging in a moderate level of daily physical activity can help keep bones and muscles strong, reduce stress and generally improve your quality of life. Whether you enjoy a brisk morning walk to start the day or a game of tennis with a friend, the key is simply to get active–and stay active.
The health benefits from exercise are endless; here are three to get you motivated:
1. Strong Bones & Muscles
Clinical research has shown that regular physical activity is one of the best ways to maintain bone health. Weight bearing or strength training exercises, such as walking, jogging or using resistance bands or weights, are helpful in preserving bone mass. This is a critical component in reducing your risk for bone weakening conditions that can occur with age and make you susceptible to fractures.
Weight bearing activities are also beneficial in building muscle mass, further supporting bone health. In addition, muscle tissue burns more calories than other body tissues, and this increased calorie burn can help you maintain a healthy weight. Strong muscles and bones improve your balance, strength and coordination, which may reduce your risk of falls and bone injuries. Your doctor can assist you in finding a weight bearing exercise that works for you.
2. Stress Reduction
Preliminary research studies have shown that regular physical activity can help the body cope with stress. Exercise releases endorphins into the system; during exercise, these natural substances are produced by the body and released into the blood stream, leading to feelings of relaxation and well-being. A brisk walk or quick workout could be just the thing to calm you after a stressful day. And, since many people often turn to food when they feel stressed - which could lead to weight gain – substituting healthy exercise for mindless snacking will not only reduce stress, but help avoid weight gain.
3. Manage Your Weight
Reducing sedentary activities, engaging in more physical activity, and burning more calories than you consume are key in weight management. A regular exercise routine not only helps with weight loss, but it has also been shown to be one of the primary factors in helping individuals maintain their goal weight. Successful "maintainers" average about 30 minutes a day of exercise, and report that this habit – along with a healthy low-fat diet – is one of the most important factors in keeping weight down.
Fueling an active lifestyle is important, too. Your body requires healthy lean proteins – like fish, poultry, lean meats, egg whites, and plant proteins, like soy – to help to maintain and build muscle tissue. Nonfat dairy products provide not only protein, but plenty of calcium to support bone health. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains – like brown rice, whole grain breads and pastas and oatmeal – are healthy carbohydrates that provide energy for daily activity. Eat right, and make a point to move, lift and stretch throughout your day. You can stay active for a lifetime – and it's never too late to start.Dr. Gratton also serves as Vice President of Medical Affairs and Education at Herbalife.