These days, as adults, we all know that exercising is good for our health and our minds. Most of us can admit that it’s something we should probably be doing more of. But when faced with the choice between hitting “next episode” on Netflix or doing squats in your living room, the latter isn't usually what we go for.
Gone are the days of recess and track and field meets. For most of us when we were kids, exercising was a normal part of what we did each day—whether it was a friendly game of tag or heading to soccer practice after school.
Is it possible to get back to the mentality we had as kids, where exercise was less of a chore and more of a way to stay healthy and have fun?
Here at HealthOne Medical & Wellness, we believe exercise should play a role in every person’s life in a way that’s both simple and enjoyable. Moving your body can provide incredible benefits like mood regulation, disease prevention, and improved quality of sleep to name a few–but that's only the beginning!
It’s time to start fresh and move in ways that will help us live more inspired. Here’s a basic breakdown of why exercise matters and our top tips for making it something you look forward to.
What’s the Deal with Endorphins?
There’s a lot of incredible science that goes on behind the scenes when you exercise. So, in this blog, we’ll just stick to the basics. We all know someone–a friend, neighbor, or even ourselves–who boasts about the “runner’s high” they get after a good sweat session.
That feeling comes from the chemicals your body releases during exercise, also known as endorphins. But what exactly are they, and why do they make us feel good?
Endorphins are only one of many neurotransmitters released when you exercise. Physical activity also stimulates the release of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
Endorphins act as analgesics. This means they reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also act as part of the natural reward circuitry in your brain because they augment the production of dopamine.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure. Specifically, it regulates motivation memory, rewards, and attention. In part, this further explains why the release of endorphins can have a pleasurable effect on the body.
The release of serotonin is related to your mood and overall mental well-being. Considered a natural mood stabilizer, it helps you feel happy, calm, focused, and more emotionally stable. Low levels of serotonin in the body have been associated with increased feelings of depression. It can also regulate feelings of anxiety.
Together, these hard-working neurotransmitters responsible for pain (or lack thereof), pleasure, and mental well-being are what can lead to that “runner’s high”. But not only is exercise good for your body–it's great for your mind, too! Let’s take a deeper look at the different types of movement.
From classic exercises (like walking) to more unique routines (like a spin class to a Top 40’s playlist), there are countless ways to get your sweat on. Understanding the key types of exercise and their benefits can help you formulate a workout plan that’s perfectly tailored to you.
What is Anaerobic Exercise?
Anaerobic exercise is typically done over short periods of time. It requires quicker bursts of energy. The primary energy source that your body uses to perform anaerobic exercise is glucose. Because of this, anaerobic exercise is usually done for a shorter length than aerobic exercise.
Examples of anaerobic exercise that you can incorporate into your routine include sprinting, weightlifting and HIIT (high intensity interval training).
What is Aerobic Exercise?
There’s a lot more to aerobic exercise than doing jumping jacks to 90’s music! Aerobic exercise is typically done over a longer, sustained period of time. The primary energy source that your body uses to perform it is oxygen. This means your heart and breathing rates become heavier and stay heavier for the duration of the exercise. This oxygen is provided to your body’s muscles, which is what drives your ability to perform.
Examples of aerobic exercise that you can incorporate into your routine include running, biking, swimming, dancing, or brisk walking.
Is Walking a Good Form of Exercise?
One of the easiest ways to exercise is something many of us have become reliant on as of late. Walking is a great form of exercise for a variety of reasons!
- It improves circulation and cardiovascular health.
- It’s a low-impact exercise suitable for people with joint problems or body pain.
- It can play a role in reaching or maintaining a healthy weight.
- You can do it for as little, or as much time as you want to.
- Best of all... it’s completely free!
It’s important to remember that exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous to be effective. Incorporating walks into your routine is a simple way to move your body, get some fresh air, and clear your head. You can bring your dog, meet up with a friend, or pop in the latest episode of your favourite podcast to make it something you’ll always look forward to!
For some people, however, walking isn’t as easy as lacing up your shoes and heading out the door. Conditions such as a collapsing arch, ankle instability, and bunions can make this simple exercise difficult for some of us to enjoy without experiencing pain.
There are other types of body pain you might experience as well, like in the knee, hip or back. What many people don’t realize is that these can be due to a dysfunction in your walking pattern.
Poor foot mechanics are more common than you might think. It can stand in the way between you and your ability to walk (or exercise in general, for that matter). Custom orthotics can provide the right kind of support so you have a strong foundation from the ground up!
At HealthOne, we have Rehab practitioners who provide custom orthopedic products to help you move your best. We invite you to book a FREE assessment to find out if they’re right for you and your exercise needs.
How to Get Motivated to Exercise
An ideal exercise routine is one that incorporates both aerobic and anaerobic forms of movement. They say variety is the spice of life, so the key is to find the types of each form of exercise that you truly love to do.
But it’s a lot easier to think about running than it is to actually put on your gym clothes and head out the door. Getting motivated can be challenging at first, but developing a realistic plan will increase your chances of actually sticking to your exercise routine.
Our mission at HealthOne is to live the same lifestyles each day that we recommend to you. We strive to incorporate movement into our lives in plenty of different ways. Here are 5 of our tips to help you get started.
- Start small. Incremental changes add up to big results. Remember, this is a lifestyle adjustment. If you’re new to exercise, try incorporating 2-3 days a week of low-moderate exercise (like walking). You can then increase the frequency and intensity or experiment with new aerobic and anaerobic movements. Not sure where to begin? HealthOne Rehab offers custom exercise programs to help you avoid the guesswork.
- Love what you do. Find a routine that you actually enjoy doing. If lifting weights makes you miserable, you'll be spending a lot more time at home than you do at the dumbbell rack.
- Listen to your body. Minimizing and avoiding injuries is key to a sustainable exercise program. Keep an eye on any pain or discomfort that develops or persists. A Physiotherapist, Massage Therapist, Osteopath or Chiropractor can all play an integral role in the prevention and treatment of injuries caused by exercise.
- Consider your physical health goals. As you become more familiar with exercise, you may find interest in setting goals for your physical health. A Functional Mobility Assessment is a great way to understand the current state of your body and learn which aspects could use improvements.
- Mentality is everything. Your exercise routine should make you feel strong, healthy, and in control of your life and decisions. Above all else, always remember to be kind to yourself.
At the end of the day, all forms of exercise can improve your body, mind, and health. By incorporating movement in sustainable ways, you’ll be closer to living a life that’s truly inspired.
Remember, exercise should be a celebration of your body–so try to approach each workout (even if it's a walk around the block) with a can-do attitude. Carve out time to take care of yourself so you can balance out go-time with some relaxation and an episode (or three) of Netflix.
One Life. Live Inspired.