Add a dose of physical activity to your life, and open up a world of benefits.
It's a crisp winter day, and not a sliver of white disrupts the brilliant blue sky. I load up the dog and head to the park. It's the perfect time to meet some friends and play a quick round of disc golf. While not a strenuous workout, disc golf offers a great way to get some exercise, enjoy good company, and take my mind off the day's business.
Why It Works
Simply being active focuses your attention on a subject other than life's problems. Getting up and moving helps rest the mind and allows you to be more prepared for the next challenges. Creating this downtime to relax is critical to long-term health and happiness.
Besides the mental benefits of moderate exercise, your body will also reap rewards. Walking and biking are great ways to get your body moving and gradually build stamina. Other casual activities, such as bowling or dancing, can have a big impact on your overall fitness level--as well as your enjoyment of life. Research shows that bowling for an hour can burn up a couple hundred calories; dancing can burn even more. And the best part is that you're having fun.
If you're worried about your joints, try tai chi, swimming, or other low-impact activities that stretch your muscles while building endurance. Regardless of the type of exercise, the key is doing it on a regular basis. Exercise five days a week, and drink plenty of water for the best results.
Combining regular exercise with a moderate diet guarantees you will get the most out of anything you do. Many know that unhealthy eating habits can contribute to excess pounds, but did you know that stress can also cause you to gain weight? When you are under stress your body releases the hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite. Exercising reduces stress and burns fat, making it easier to control your weight. From disc golf to bowling to dancing, it's not hard to find something that's perfect for you.
Being active helps your health.
- Lowers blood pressure by reducing overall stress
- Improves stamina and muscle strength
- Reduces feelings of depression and increases feelings of well-being
- Preserves lean muscle mass and decreases body fat
- Reduces the risk of bone fractures by building strength
This article is from the January 2005 issue of Southern Living.