Your body needs a regular, balanced variety of physical activity to help you function – and feel – at your best.
Four keys areas to focus on are flexibility, strength, balance and cardiovascular fitness.
Many of my patients who labour during the day feel too exhausted at shift’s end and feel that they are getting sufficient exercise. Yet they may be missing out on one or more of these key areas of fitness.
Physical fitness supports emotional and mental health. Being physically fit improves our personal sense of wellbeing. It simply feels good to have the strength, agility, coordination and energy to meet the demands of everyday life.
Adequate stretching (once your muscles have warmed up) can improve your flexibility and decrease areas of muscle tension. Often after starting a new activity, you may experience areas of soreness. Stretching can help this. Flexibility may also prevent injuries both with exercise and during your normal daily activity.
Though most of us don’t want to look like bodybuilders, we can all benefit by strength training with resistance bands or light weights. It may make housekeeping and grocery shopping much easier.
Working on your balance will not only improve how gracefully you move but prevent accidents and injuries – including falls. This is especially important for the elderly who are at increased risk for falling and suffering hip fractures and head injuries.
Cardiovascular conditioning improves circulation to your brain and slows down atherosclerosis of the cerebral circulation – the large and small blood vessels that serve your brain. This decreases your likelihood of developing vascular dementia due to cerebral ischemia and multiple strokes.
Distance runners, swimmers and cyclists are familiar with the zone wherein they experience extended periods of peace and wellbeing during sustained cardiovascular activity. It can become a form of meditation and provide a daily ritual that maintains calm in your busy life.
Of course, exercise burns calories, allowing you to maintain the right energy balance, healthy body weight and percentage of body fat. Exercise can increase your lean muscle mass and thereby increase your metabolic rate.
Next: Beginning a new exercise routine.