According to national statistics compiled by the Health and Social Care Information Centre around one in five British men and woman were obese in 2011. These figures rose sharply since 1993 and, if history is to be believed, are set to continue to rise.
Although we all know that exercising is good, for most of us it stays low on our list of priorities. Often we have the intention to tackle exercise once our to do lists have been taken care of – an impossible task considering they are constantly being added to.
The truth is that our inactive lives can lead to many health problems, both physically and mentally. Coronary heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and poor mental health can all result from being inactive.
For years one of my most self-defeating mantras was ‘I hate exercise’. Every time I said it I reinforced the sentiment that exercise just wasn’t for me. This all changed when one day I began working alongside a girl who ran to and from work. At first I thought she was crazy however I soon learnt she had dropped two dress sizes in just six months and just like that my interest was piqued. I came to admire her self-discipline and determination and spoke to her regularly about her exercise regime. She suggested I sign up for a 5k race to motivate me to train and shortly thereafter I had officially registered for a charity run, bought my running gear and installed my ‘Couch to 5k’ app’.
Encountering a real-life example of weight loss motivated me to take up exercise but not all of us have living proof such as mine. Furthermore, what motivates me might be different to what motivates you. With that in mind, how can we motivate ourselves to make our lives more active? A simple and invaluable technique is to remind ourselves of the many and varied benefits of exercise.
Exercise has not only been proven to improve the health of our hearts and reduce the likelihood of heart disease but it also helps to prevent osteoporosis – a debilitating disease which depletes bone density and can lead to frequent bone fractures in later life. It has been shown to reduce obesity, help us to lose unwanted weight and reduce the likelihood of diabetes. and even increases our libidos, promoting a sexually healthy lifestyle. Should you need further convincing exercise also helps reduce insomnia and improves our sleep quality, which in turn makes us more emotionally resilient to life’s ups and downs.
But the benefits to exercise are more far reaching than just helping to increase our physical health – exercise has been proven to improve our mental and emotional health too! Exercise improves our reasoning ability and memory function and has been shown to reduce the stress hormone Cortisol, proving that through regular exercise we can lower our stress levels. In addition, the endorphins exercise releases gives us a considerable positive emotional boost, providing us with an invaluable sense of well being.
Next week we look at ways of incorporating exercise into your life so it fits in with your lifestyle and schedule, stay tuned!
Do you currently exercise? If not, what types of exercise have you tried? What about them didn’t you like? What types of exercise would you like to try? Does anywhere in the local area provide classes or facilities you would be interested in? Please comment and join our community to gain encouragement, insight and support.