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Time to Get Moving – Why Exercise is Better than Medication!

Make the time for exercise now or make time for disease later. That’s the message the research is telling us and has been telling us for some time now. It really is that important. The benefits of exercise on a person’s health have shown that it is crucial to assist in the prevention of a range of lifestyle related diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. And it’s never too late to start. Age is no barrier!

There are so many benefits of regular exercise. In fact, if a drug could do what exercise can claim to do, it would be hailed as the discovery of the century! Check out this list of scientifically proven benefits from exercise. So many body systems reap the rewards, it really is quite amazing.

Regular exercise:

· boosts your endurance and increases your energy levels

· builds stronger & healthier muscles, joints, and bones

· strengthens your heart function, lowering blood pressure, cholesterol & triglycerides

· improves oxygen delivery & blood supply throughout the body

· supports your metabolism and lowers blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity

· boosts your immune function

· aids your digestion and elimination processes

· supports female cycles, hormone balance and reduces cramping

· reduces anxiety & tension, and improves your mood

· releases endorphins which make you feel good, increases self-esteem and wellbeing

· improves your ability to cope with stress

· induces relaxation and improves your sleep quality

So how much is enough? Regular is the key point with getting the most benefits from exercise. That really means as much as everyday and as little as 4x week. In our busy lifestyles, I find when people schedule exercise into their day like another meeting, it happens more frequently. You do have to make it a priority and a commitment in your day.

What exercise you chose to do is entirely up to you and your abilities. A 30-40 min walk everyday (not a quiet stroll) is all it really takes to gain the listed

benefits above but mix it up a bit if you can. If you’re someone who enjoys the gym and the structure gym classes can provide, that’s great. There’s also swimming pools and classes on offer there. Yoga and Pilates studios offer a range of options and increasing numbers of dance studios offer adult classes now too. Jumping on the bike (and making it part of your commute if possible) is fabulous low impact exercise and great on your joints. Team sports are brilliant for extra motivation as well as the physical benefits too. Regular, consistent movement is what is important, putting yourself through pain and misery to run a marathon is not what’s necessary!

Don’t let the weather put you off! If you’re not a gym-bunny or an inside sport person, put on a raincoat with a hood, chose a more sheltered route and get out there. Being in nature and visually seeing the greens and blues Mother Nature provides is a tonic to the soul. Many of us feel calmer in green spaces and science has now proven what we’ve instinctively felt to be true, that being in nature relaxes us and calms the mind. And if it’s been drizzling all day, remember how great that shower feels when you come inside from a wet & windy walk or bike ride – I tell my kids that before I send them onto the hockey turf in the winter rain!

Take a friend with you! Doing exercise with a friend can boost your motivation and commitment as well as being great for your brain. Research is showing that social interaction with regular exercise is wonderful for the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It keeps your brain more malleable as it keeps you moving physically as well as being focused and involved in the conversation. If your friends can’t always join you, the good news is that listening to a podcast while you are walking will also give you the same brain benefits. You’re listening to a conversation as well as moving, and as far as your brain is concerned, that’s the next best thing.

And finally, a wee tip for parents… when I’m tearing my hair out with the kids fighting and bickering with each other, that’s when I make everyone put on a coat, grab their bike helmet and out we go! A good bike ride sorts out child arguments and emotional overload like nothing else. Just getting outside to expend some energy is really the key. Everyone returns calmer and happier with a different energy and the rest of the day goes much more smoothly. Just how I like it!

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