By Renée Leonard-Stainton
Now, I’m no personal trainer, supermodel, or ripped athlete, but as a Naturopath, I’m constantly reminded about the importance of staying fit and I know that exercise is absolutely vital for good health. We all know this, yet excuses likes lack of time, energy, equipment and motivation can be given. Are these excuses valid? How important is your health?
While the immediate effect of exercise is stress on the body, with regular exercise, the body adapts; it becomes stronger, functions more efficiently, and has greater endurance. Your whole body benefits from exercise, largely as a result of improved cardiovascular and respiratory function. Simply stated, exercise enhances the transport of oxygen and nutrients into cells. At the same time, it enhances the transport of carbon dioxide and other waste products from the tissues of the body to the bloodstream, and ultimately to the eliminative organs. At some stage, you’ve probably heard about most of the benefits of exercise that I’ve listed below, but I’ve compiled as many benefits on the different body systems that I can think of into one list – definitely the perfect mind/body remedy…
Increases muscle strength
Lessens chance of injury
Increases flexibility of muscles and range of motion
Produces stronger bones, ligaments and tendons
Enhances posture and physique
Heart and blood vessels:
Lowers resting heart rate
Strengthens heart function
Increases blood supply to muscles
Lowers blood pressure
Improves oxygen delivery throughout the body
Improves the way the body handles dietary fat
Helps lower blood cholesterol
Promotes lean body mass; burns fat
Improves immune function
Aids digestion and elimination
Increases endurance and energy levels
Helps reduce tension and anxiety
Improves mental outlook and self-esteem
Helps relieve moderate depression
Improves the ability to handle stress
Stimulates improved mental function
Induces relaxation and improves sleep
Here are a few tips to creating an effective exercise routine:
Recognise the importance of physical exercise - maybe print out the list above and put it somewhere that will inspire/motivate you.
Select an activity you enjoy – so many to choose from! Why not suit your mood and mix it up? Yoga zen one day, boxing beauty another?!
Exercise frequently – a minimum of 30 mins at least three times a week is necessary to gain any significant cardiovascular benefits from exercise. Make sure you do schedule at least one rest day a week though.
Make it fun – if you can find enjoyment in exercise, you’re much more likely to exercise regularly. I’m always texting my girlfriends to meet up for a ‘walk and talk’ – it’s by far a healthier habit than a coffee and catch/wine and cheese catch up (which still do happen of course, but at least we’re keeping it balanced!)
Vary your routine – doing the same thing every day becomes boring and drains motivation
Imagine…if the benefits of exercise could be put in a pill, you would have the most powerful health-promoting medication available! However, natural is always best (of course) so your healthiest bet will be to just get-a-moving! The better shape you’re in physically, the greater your odds of enjoying a healthier and longer life. In fact, researchers have estimated that for every hour of exercise, there is a two-hour increase in lifespan. Now that’s definitely a valuable return on investment!
Live well, live long, live naturally
Renée is a Naturopath with a passion for green living. As the creator of the popular blog ‘Renée Naturally’, she shares healthy recipes, credible health and wellbeing information and sustainable living guidance. Renée also contributes to various international magazines, radio shows, and blogs including Miranda Kerr’s ‘KORA Organics’.