The Power of Fitness

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Jennifer Cooreman for Flashy Fit

By now, most of us have heard about the benefits of exercise.  Unfortunately, the disease fighting, youth boosting, mood enhancing wonders of physical activity aren’t always enough to break through our stubborn refusal to establish regular exercise routines. According to the CDC 80 percent of Americans don’t get the recommended amount of exercise.

It’s easy to find excuses to sit on the couch, avoiding exercise at all costs. But learning about the true benefits of exercise might offer the motivation you need to start your journey towards health.

Read on to learn how exercise can benefit your mind, body and soul:

Exercise is scientifically proven to boost your mood. When you add consistent movement to your life, you’ll notice how much better you feel almost instantly. Your body will start to function more efficiently, you’ll flood your brain with natural mood enhancing neurotransmitters, and improve how all the systems in your body function. Even better? Exercise slows the aging process by creating healthy bones and muscles.

Not only will regular exercise help you look and feel better, a consistent program will help you decrease risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and a host of other maladies we’d all rather avoid. To learn more about how exercise helps you stay healthy, check out American College of Sports Medicine  (ACSM) fact sheets.

Some get discouraged when they start an exercise routine and don’t see immediate results. But exercise is an excellent example of the old adage, “Sometimes the best changes can’t be seen, they can only be felt.” Don’t hobble yourself with unrealistic goals or demands on your body when you begin your exercise program. Outside change will come, but it takes time. To stay motivated, focus on the benefits of exercise you can’t see: the increased endorphins and attention, healthier sleep patterns, and slow building of bone density.

Need more reasons to incorporate exercise into your daily life? Exercise helps rid us of less-than-productive emotions, including stress and anxiety. It increases positive emotions, happiness, confidence, and relaxation. Even your brain function changes when you exercise!  Physical activity has been proven to improve memory, decision-making skills, and your overall capacity to learn, all while helping to prevent cognitive decline later in life.

For longer term rewards, including that six pack you might be hoping for, stick with a consistent exercise routine and stay motivated by playing the long game: remember what a powerful impact you’re having on your health when you exercise, and you’ll be one of the 20 percent of Americans who actually gets the optimal amount of physical activity.

If you haven’t had a consistent exercise routine in a while, begin by making an appointment with yourself. Treat exercise just as you would any other important commitment, and stick with it! At a minimum, shoot for 3 strength training sessions per week and some kind of movement you enjoy (walking, yoga, etc.) on your non-strength training days. It’s also a great idea to check in with a personal trainer if you’re just starting out or have questions about your strength or cardio routines. Trainers can help you find the right balance of cardio and strength training, avoid injury, and meet your personal fitness goals, all while keeping your routine fun and fresh.

If you do not have time to do cardio as much as you’d like, another goal is to shoot for 150 minutes of activity per week. Scientists have found that the benefits of exercise are cumulative; so if you don’t have time for a full on 30 minute routine, take a short walk at lunch, add an extra walk with the dog in the evening, add a few planks or other core strengthening exercises while you’re watching television. Every little bit adds up to a healthier, happier you!

Need help finding an exercise routine you enjoy, or advice from a personal trainer? FlashyFit is a community of women which offers support, expert advice, and realistic suggestions for making physical activity a daily part of your life. If you have not joined the community or started your first set of Flashy Fit cards start right now!

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