Hi everyone! I am so happy to be back and posting rounds of research for my new inquiry! My question this cycle is "What does a healthy lifestyle consist of, and how do we maintain one?" This round I will be looking into daily exercise, and the benefits it provides to our health and well-being.
To start, I looked at a dictionary to see what "healthy" is defined as, and here is what it said:
- "free from disease or pain : enjoying health and vigor of body, mind, or spirit"
- "showing physical, mental, or emotional well-being: evincing health"
Even though these are the definitions of healthy, I feel healthy can be defined in many ways, and it is also different for every person. Different people can have different ways of being healthy depending on their lifestyle. However, physical activity and exercise is something that is very important, and we should all try to fit this into our week some way or another to contribute to our healthy well-being.
So many studies have showed that exercising has so many benefits. Everyone benefits from exercise, young or old. However, a little over 20% of children from the ages of 2-15 are recorded as being overweight or obese. This is why it is so important that we incorporate this into our daily schedules and routines. Exercising helps you manage your weight to keep you healthy, and it helps prevent the risks of getting many diseases. (1)
For children alone, there are many benefits to regular physical activity:
- Stimulates their muscles, bones and joints that are continually growing
- Helps them keep a good weight
- Can help them make friends and be social
- Helps reduce problems involving anxiety and depression
Adults and teens also gain a great number of advantages as well:
- Helps your muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness
- Keeps your bones strong
- Reduces risks of high blood pressure, certain types of cancers, coronary artery disease, strokes and diabetes
- Reduces mental health problems, anxiety and stress
Going into more detail...
Exercising regularly will help to keep your muscles strong. Having strong muscles helps you burn calories even when you are not exercising. Your mass of your muscles is actually metabolically active tissue. So, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn when not working out. (2) This is why weight training is so important, because it allows you to maintain your muscle mass for as long as possible. Ways to do strength training can range from doing actual weights, to using your body weight (pushups, pull ups, sit ups, planks) etc. (3)
Exercising also helps increase circulation and keep your skin clean and healthy. It does this by increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients to it which removes toxins from your body. There is an increase in collagen (a connective tissue) and your skin also gets an increase in blood flow after exercising, which can explain why your skin may glow and look different after. (2)
Studies have proven, that by exercising, there can be changes in the chemical levels in your body, which can impact your metal state and mood. Happy/good feeling hormones called endorphins are released in the brain when you work out. Low levels of these endorphins can cause depression. Additionally, regularly exercising helps to maintain your immune system and will lower the risk of you getting colds, flus, etc. Blood flow to the brain is also improved, which enables it to receive more oxygen, and essentially improves your brainpower (thinking faster). (2)
It is recommended that you get at least two and a half hours of exercise each week. However, you may need to do more to maintain a steady weight. For example, the Harvard women's health study recorded 34,000 middle-aged women for a span of 13 years to find that if they wanted to keep a steady weight they had to do at least 1 hour of physical activity every day. It is important to get used to physical activity at a young age to ensure you continue to do it as you get older. Children and teens should be getting 1 hour a day of some sort of physical activity. You should try to do more intense activities to get your heart rate up higher, however walking can help just as much if you want to do that instead. (3)
Physical education classes in schools are a great way of getting children into the habit of healthy living and exercising, since it incorporates it into their school day. It contributes a positive effect to their physical health, and helps reduce obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, asthma, sleep disorders etc. PE classes also teach students how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, by learning about which foods are beneficial to your body, and what our bodies need for nutrients and rest. Studies have proven that students have improved academically through regularly doing physical activity. Exercising and moving more often contributes to high concentration levels. Additionally, PE classes not only help to provide a positive effect to our health, but they even help us socially. As young as grade 1, we learn to cooperate and work with others in a team building environment. This can help us to be more involved in our communities and gain better levels of leadership. (4)
Earlier in the post, I mentioned how weight training is important to allow you to maintain your muscle mass. Strength training is also really important as well, as it helps to increase your lean body mass and reduce the mass of fat in your body. It also increases your resting metabolic rate, which is the rate of how much calories you burn every day. (3)
Muscle requires calories to repair and fuel it, so when you are younger, sometimes you can get away with eating a lot of calories in one day. As we grow older, it is natural for us to lose this muscle, which means we don't actually need that many calories to fuel us through the day, however we don't realize this, and it is easier to gain weight as a result. (3)
Some may think that getting exercise means you have to do an intense workout or go to the gym or go for a run. However, there are many ways to get your heart rate up and still have a great time in the process! Many of these activities I have listed below just come from preference of others and what they enjoy doing. When choosing what you want to do to get your physical activity into your day, there are so many ways. It depends on what you are interested in and want to do.
- Hiking- This is a great way to get out of the house, get together with friends, and experience nature all while still getting physical activity and improving your health. Additionally, you can challenge yourself by choosing a higher intensity hike which actually gives the same benefits as running on a treadmill or going for a run.
- Walking- Going for a 30-minute walk can a just as good too. If you have a dog, use that as an excuse to get out the house and move around, but even if you don't, go with family or friends and make it enjoyable at the same time.
- Rock climbing- this is a great way to build muscle and have fun at the same time. As you get better and stronger you can challenge yourself with different levels.
- Geocaching- You can get thousands of steps in a day from geocaching in the forest or around your community.
- Dancing- Dancing classes are actually really good workouts that gets your heart rate up and improves your cardio.
- Yoga- this is an awesome core, flexibility, and strength workout. As well, it's a great way to relax and clear your mind.
- Additional ways to get exercise is biking, swimming, playing games like Just dance, or Wii Tennis/Sports
Ideas above (5)
Sometimes we get so caught up with working out and exercising that we forget that our body also needs time to rest and recover. Recovery days are actually just as important as exercising days. When exercising or doing any sort of physical activity, we are putting more strain and pressure on our parts of our body like muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and joints. When we have strained or sore muscles, we need to give time for our body to heal itself, which means you need to take a rest from the exercise. Recovery days matter for both strength training, and endurance/conditioning training. Whether you are building muscle or doing a lot of running and agility, these things put stress on your muscles and joints, and if you don't give them time to recover, you run the even greater risk of shin splints, and muscle tears. For most of us who just want to keep a healthy lifestyle, rest days should consist of taking a whole day off each time. However, for people who are building muscle and strength, they may take a day off from lifting but still do something like improving their cardio by going for a run instead. (6) Flexibility training is great on recovery days, to maintain range of motion, and keep your muscles from tightening and cramping. It is recommended that you stretch 2-3 days per week. (3)
That’s all for this round! Next, I will be looking at good foods for our bodies and how they contribute to keeping our body healthy. Comments and suggestions always welcome!