How to introduce moderate exercise into your routine
Posted December 22, 2021 by Nilesh Shah, MD
Study after study has shown the positive effects of light-to-moderate physical activity and the negative effects of little or no exercise. Regular exercise is one of the most beneficial (and cost-effective) activities you can do to better your health.
Some benefits include:
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease: Stroke and heart disease are two of the leading causes of death in the U.S. According to the CDC, just 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity can put you at a lower risk for these diseases.
- Weight control: While this is a well-known benefit of exercising, even minor physical activity can impact your waistline. Taking the stairs, putting a little more pep into household chores and regular walks can help maintain a healthy weight.
- Better sleep: Consistent physical activity can help you fall asleep quicker and can even better the quality of your sleep. However, try to limit the activity to several hours before bedtime to get your heart-rate and endorphin levels back to sleep-friendly levels.
- Improved mood and energy: A lack of energy can often result from a lack of activity. Exercise enables your cardiovascular system to function more effectively by pumping oxygen and nutrients into your body tissue. Healthy, happy body tissue can also reduce the negative effects of stress.
- Reduced risk of some cancers: There are a lot of factors we cannot control when it comes to cancer, but more and more research shows the link between a healthy lifestyle and lower cancer rates. According to the CDC, physically active people have a lower risk of colon and breast cancer than do people who are not active.
We’ve tackled a few of the benefits of physical activity, but what if you don’t know where to start? Searching for exercise programs or even beginning one without realistic expectations can quickly turn people away. There is also a crucial point in the process around week 3 or 4 where people are most likely to abandon a new, challenging habit in that time frame. A few tips below can help fight off that fatigue.
The easiest and cheapest form of physical activity is walking - that’s a great place to start! A few other ideas to help get more calories burning are:
- Join a community sports league or activity class: Did you play volleyball or basketball in high school? Maybe a dancer in college? You’d be surprised how quickly muscle memory can kick back in. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy activities as part of a team/social aspect.
- Use the buddy system: Walking or working out with a friend helps by having someone to talk to and provides someone to keep you accountable to your new lifestyle.
- Focus on activities you like: If you don’t like running, don’t run! Between cardio machines, fitness classes, bicycles or swimming, you can get cardio in many ways. Do an activity that you enjoy doing right now.
- Make small, achievable goals: If you do like to run, but it has been years since you broke out your running shoes, start with an app that gets you “from couch to 5K” and aim to run a 5K after you reach that milestone.
- Don’t focus on the scale: Yes, maintaining a healthy weight is important, but so is sticking with a new routine. Be mindful of the way your body starts to feel, instead of the numbers on a scale.
- Listen to your body: If something is hurting, stop doing it, plain and simple. Sore muscles are not a sign of a problem but swelling and serious pain are. Stick to those achievable goals and you’re more likely to keep at a new exercise routine, with minimal injuries.
If an injury does occur, it’s very important to let it rest and recover in the amount of time your primary care physician prescribes. Ask them to recommend activities that keep you in the groove but allow healing time.
Summa Health’s sports medicine physicians have extensive experience caring for children, adolescents and adults. They care for athletes and non-athletes, helping them recover from injuries. Our physicians offer same day/next day appointments and expedited referrals to the top orthopedic surgeons in the area. Most insurance companies are accepted. For more information, call 330.835.5533.