Stress is an emotion that most of us feel we have an abundance of. Unfortunately, the natural response to stress is an unhealthy one: spend more time thinking about the particular thing stressing us out. It seems unreasonable when we are stressed to take our mind off of the problem at hand and focus on something else for a little bit, but distracting ourselves in this way can often act as the first step towards resolving stress.
Exercise is an extremely effective stress-relief technique because of the productive distraction it can provide us. Exercise gives us the opportunity to constructively redirect our negative emotions, and it has a proven ability to boost our mood. These two benefits of physical activity directly counteract the negative impact stress has on our bodies.
Exercising also leads to a multitude of additional benefits that contribute to a higher quality of life. Some of these include:
– Increasing Strength
– Increasing Aerobic Capacity
– Increasing Balance, Coordination, & Flexibility
– Lowering Blood Pressure
– Reducing Risk of Heart Disease
– Improving Sleep
– Decreasing Rate of Mental Decline Associated With Aging
The thought of exercising can be overwhelming enough to prevent us from doing it, especially if it has been a while since the last time we tried it. Fortunately, engaging in physical activity becomes easier with time. The benefits of exercising are so apparent that it progressively becomes harder to miss a workout than to engage in one as we move along in our fitness journey.
One of the best parts about getting active is that there are nearly endless ways to do so. All you have to do is choose your favorite method of exercise and get moving. 30 minutes of physical activity per day is a great goal to start with. Keep the intensity lower at first if you are new or unfamiliar with exercise, and then increase the intensity and/or longevity of your workouts as your fitness level progresses.
Try some of the activities below if you are in need of ideas to get yourself or someone you know active:
Kids Aged 4 – 13: Throw a football/frisbee, have a dance party, go on a walk, shoot a basketball, play tag, try body weight pushups/sit-ups/squats, jump rope, alternate short distance sprints & walks, try to learn a cartwheel, do some jumping jacks, design a relay race, play red light/green light
Anyone 14+ (any of the above in addition to): weightlifting with proper form, jogging moderate to long distances, step ups onto an inclined surface, going for a swim, taking the bike for a ride, trying a pull up, hitting a punching bag, doing some burpees
Anyone in a Wheelchair (some of the above in addition to): shoulder raises & tricep extensions with light dumbbells (a book or canned food would work as well), overhead & forward punches, seated forward & side crunches, alternating big & small arm circles, twists