Friday, June 14, 2013

Motivation for a Healthy Lifestyle

This blog begins a 3 part series on motivation—internal vs. external motivators, changing desires, and basing motivation on truth vs. myths and lies. There's no doubt that the most motivated people in the N.E.W. LIFE programs are individuals motivated by fear after they have had a heart attack or other health scare.  But how much better is it to become motivated to exercise and eat a healthy diet before we have a problem?  I do realize motivation to exercise can be a challenge, especially for individuals who have been sedentary for awhile, and eating habits can be hard to change.  Often people start with very good intentions and begin  making changes, but soon they begin to struggle with motivation.  A key to becoming and staying motivated to exercise and eat right is to switch from external motivators to internal motivators. . .

Friday, June 7, 2013

Benefits of Physical Activity

This is the 3rd of three blog entries on physical activity—importance, amount, and benefits.  In the first of the series I recommended that while weight-loss or maintenance is a wonderful by-product of an active lifestyle, I do not recommend weight-loss be your primary reason for exercising because people who exercise in order to lose weight often struggle with maintaining the motivation to exercise once they achieve their goal weight.  Furthermore, weight-loss exercisers who base their motivation on the myth that their worth is based on their body image are basing their motivation on shifting sand.  Since it is not true that you are worthy because of your body image, and since life doesn’t always get better once you lose the weight, if you have built your motivation on that shaky foundation, when the sand shifts the motivation will crumble.  Even if you can stay motivated, exercising for weight-loss can keep you in bondage to body image rather than experiencing the pure energizing joy of physical activity and the many other benefits it offers. 

I realize that many people who exercise for weight-loss are doing so because they have been told that weight-loss results in better health.  Unfortunately, weight-loss in and of itself does not necessarily result in better health (this complicated, sometimes controversial, often surprising topic will be discussed in a future blog)  and an increasing amount of research is bringing that to light.  Of course the physical activity does result in improved health, and in a multitude of ways.  So instead of exercising for weight-loss which often comes with motivation struggles, bondage to body image, and a misplaced value on weight in health, I highly recommend that you focus on the many other benefits of physical activity:

  • Develops and maintains cardiorespiratory fitness

  • Increases HDL’s (“good cholesterol”)

  • Decreases LDL’s (“bad cholesterol”)

  • Decreases triglycerides

  • Decreases blood pressure

  • Reduces stress 

  • Anti-inflammatory properties

  • Reduces body fat and maintains healthy body weight

  • Helps to prevent heart disease, stroke, colon & breast cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis,   diverticular disease, and gallstones

  • Helps manage arthritis

  • Stabilizes blood sugars

  •  Increases energy

  •  Improves muscle tone, strength and flexibility 

  • Increases metabolic rate for at least 12-14 hours after exercise.  In addition, lean tissue is more metabolically active 24 hours a day, even while sedentary

  • Modifies or eliminates anxiety, depression

  • Decreases symptoms of PMS

  • Increases self-esteem and sense of well-being and improves mental outlook

  • Improves blood flow to skin, hair and other organs contributing to a healthier skin, hair and body

  • Immediate appetite suppressant

  • Improves sleep

  • Improves bodily processes from digestion to elimination

It feels good and it’s FUN!!!

It is important to make physical activity a consistent and enjoyable part of your life.  It does not have to involve long, sweaty workouts—

Just get moving!

Diane Preves, M.S., R.D.

Thank you for sharing this post with others who might benefit from the information shared herein.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How Much Exercise Should I Do?

Often when people do decide to exercise, the very next question is 
how much?  Let me start off by saying that any physical activity is good, so no matter how few moments you can dedicate to it will make a difference.  You may believe “no pain, no gain” from messages of a time gone by that have convinced you that unless you are involved in intense sweaty workouts there is no benefit.  Not true.  Any physical activity is good--any time, any amount.  The goal is to incorporate physical activity as part of your lifestyle—that means ongoing and consistent.  If the only way to consistently add exercise to your life is to start small, then start small--very small if need be.  Just get moving!  As you realize how achievable small steps are (no pun intended), and you quickly begin to feel the benefits, it will become a self-motivating endeavor.  So just start where you are at.  It may take a few weeks (or even months) to budge the schedule enough to incorporate consistent physical activity into your lifestyle, so don’t be discouraged if your reality (and schedule) is a little slower to change than you would hope.  Just keep looking for opportunities in the schedule and determine to become more physically active, remember that any activity matters, and just get moving.

The very good, somewhat surprising news from accumulating research:

·      Studies have shown that disease and death rates go down as the total daily amount of exercise goes up.  Furthermore clinical trials have shown that several 10-minute bursts of exercise yield essentially the same benefits in blood pressure, weight, body fat, cholesterol levels, and cardiovascular fitness as the same total amount of exercise done in a single session.  Therefore, exercise done “piecemeal” throughout the day seems as beneficial as the same total amount of exercise done in a single session. . .

Banner Image Credit: bryljaev / 123RF Stock Photo.

Background Image Credit: bryljaev / 123RF Stock Photo.