by Jen Fuller-Allen
You don’t have to wait for the New Year to start a new fitness regimen. You can start integrating healthy habits before the hype of weight loss in January. Healthy lifestyles affect various aspects of your life. By making a positive lifestyle change you can see benefits emotionally, physically, spiritually and even with your relationships on an individual level as well as with your family.
1. Exercise improves your mood & increases self-esteem.
Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out. You’ll also look better and feel better when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem. Regular physical activity can even help prevent depression.
2. Exercise combats chronic diseases.
Regular physical activity can help you prevent — or manage — high blood pressure. Your cholesterol will benefit, too. Regular physical activity boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol while decreasing triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly by lowering the buildup of plaques in your arteries. Regular physical activity can help you prevent Type II diabetes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer.
3. Exercise helps you manage your weight.
When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn — and the easier it is to keep your weight under control. Dedicated workouts are great, but physical activity you accumulate throughout the day helps you burn calories, too.
4. Exercise boosts your energy level.
Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can leave you breathing easier. Regular physical activity helps your entire cardiovascular system — the circulation of blood through your heart and blood vessels — work more efficiently. When your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you’ll have more energy to do the things you enjoy.
5. Exercise promotes better sleep.
A good night’s sleep can improve your concentration, productivity and mood. And you guessed it — physical activity is sometimes the key to better sleep. Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. There’s a caveat, however. If you exercise too close to bedtime, you may be too energized to fall asleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, you might want to exercise earlier in the day.
6. Exercise can be fun!
Physical activity doesn’t have to be drudgery. Take a ballroom dancing class. Check out a local climbing wall or hiking trail. Push your kids on the swings or climb with them on the jungle gym. Plan a neighborhood kickball or touch football game. Find a physical activity you enjoy and go for it. If you get bored, try something new. If you’re moving, it counts!
7. Exercise increases mental focus.
Did you know that the latest research shows that exercise helps keep the brain sharp well into old age? Anything that involves mental acuity (focus and concentration) is improved. You also stand a much better chance of avoiding such diseases as Alzheimer’s and senility.
8. Exercise improves your relationships with others.
It provides you with an outlet for your stress, allowing you to be more relaxed and able to focus more on others. If you exercise with a partner or family member, it provides a perfect opportunity to improve communication and strengthen your bond by committing to doing something together.
9. Exercise can decrease stress levels.
The worries and stresses of everyday living (commuting, work demands, conflicts etc.) can stick with you long after the work day is done. Exercise right after work is the perfect natural therapy that can change your mood. You’ll sleep better too!
Things we can do as a family to stay fit…
- Find a partner or class to be accountable to – spouse, fellow pastor, friend, child, anyone…..
- Walk together
- Ride bikes
- Play in the yard
- Go to the park
- Play hopscotch, basketball, soccer or any other games as a family
- It is good for us to teach these healthy choices to our children as well.
- By setting an example for our children, we encourage them to embrace healthy habits from a young age and help to increase their brain development, decrease their risk of obesity and other childhood diseases, improve their self-esteem and spend more time together as a family.
Think about what motivates you to make a healthy lifestyle change – write it down and stick it on your mirror at home
Decide HOW & WHEN you will exercise – make a written plan and schedule it in your calendar. Don’t break that appointment with yourself.
Easy ways to add exercise to every day:
- Take the stairs
- Park your car at the end of the lot
- Do jumping jacks or march in place during commercials on TV
- Use a pedometer – aim for 10,000 steps a day
I would encourage you to track your exercise – set a goal of 30 minutes a day/three days a week or three family walks a week or a certain number of steps on your pedometer – anything that you enjoy – then record it on your calendar just like all your other appointments. When you finish, write it down so you can see your progress – you can use a calendar, a sheet of paper or a website. Sparkpeople.com allows you to track food and exercise – you can use it for either one. There are also lots of articles, workouts and recipes you can use.
Perform 10 of each exercise in order a total of 5 times (no equipment required)
Quick Cardio – no equipment required – all can be high or low impact
- Jumping Jacks
- Jump Rope
- Quick Feet
- Power Heels
- Jump Squat
- High Knees (add arms)
- Hamstring run
- Front Kicks
- Arm Punches/Speed bag Arms
- Run/Walk up & down stairs
- Walk/Run in all directions at a track or in your driveway
Weight Circuit: You can use anything from dumbbells to canned vegetables
|Shoulder Press||Right Front Lunge|
|Front Lat Raise||Left Front Lunge|
|Side Lat Raise||Right Lateral Lunge|
|Back Row||Left Lateral Lunge|
|Chest Press||Hamstring Bridge Lift|
(*Weights – begin with 2 sets of 8 reps; work up to 3 sets of 8-10 reps each)