You’ve probably heard it from your doctor a million times – “go for a walk”, “do more exercise” or ”move more!” But you might not truly know why moving is the golden ticket. Let me break it down for you.
Exercise vs. Moving Activity
Firstly, let’s understand the difference between exercise and physical activity. Not all physical activity is exercise, however, all exercise does include physical activity.
The main defining factor of exercise is “any physical activity with the set intention of improving one’s health and fitness”. Whereas physical activity in itself is simply moving the body for any purpose. This can include doing the dishes, lifting boxes at work. Or even walking downstair to grab yourself snacks from the kitchen (as I often find myself doing).
Now, we understand the difference between moving, and planning movement for the betterment of our health. Let’s dive into how it can improve our health.
1. Influx of Oxygen
Firstly, let’s look at the effects of physical activity on our bodies.
When we exercise, our brain is supplied with a fresh dose of Oxygen, which is the good stuff. Don’t forget that our poor brain cells have a high dependency on oxygen. Therefore, having an influx of delicious, fresh Dioxygen can help us think, feel, and act better.
Another reason that we feel so refreshed after a good workout is due to the increased level of endocannabinoids. They are neurotransmitters that link to your brain’s reward center. As a result, we might feel more motivated to return to our exercise due to the feeling of accomplishment. Not to mention the internal reward for that accomplishment also helps.
3. More Efficient Heart Muscle
Exercise might be true love to our hearts. When we begin to exercise, our heart needs to keep up with the oxygen demands of our brain and muscles. In order to do this, it increases the rate of blood being pumped and the amount of it per beat. That is our heart stroke volume. When your heart needs to work harder, it becomes more efficient at pumping more blood per beat. This carries over to an improved ability to maintain a lower resting blood pressure and a lower resting heart rate. It then improves the ability to resist cardiovascular diseases down the road.
Get More Moving
The global recommendations for physical activity for adults is 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. Feel overwhelmed by hearing this? It can simply be separated into 30 minutes a day in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Additionally it is recommended to have 2 days per week where we work on strengthening our major muscle groups.
So, what are some things we can do to be more physically active?
Acknowledge Small Wins
We can start by focusing on our past success and acknowledging the small wins. For example, maybe we took the stairs instead of the elevator, or we walked to the store instead of driving. Any of them are valuable and should be heard!
Enjoy With Loved Ones
It may also be helpful to gather some support from family and friends. It could be dedicating 10 minutes before dinner to go for a walk and talking about your day. Or playing a more active game such as Wii sports after dinner instead of sitting on couch and watching TV.
Whatever the way you are able to be active, just take a moment to remind yourself. You did move today and you should be proud of that! And what you can bring for tomorrow is that you can move even more!