It’s hell getting old, but it beats the heck out of dying young.™“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” -- Buddha Do you believe that exercise is all about toned abs and well-defined muscles? You’ll be happy to learn that exercise has added benefits, including increased happiness and boosted brainpower.
The Benefits of Regular Exercise
- You can reverse the effects of stress.
- You’ll feel better. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can increase the “feel-good” chemicals in your brain such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
- You can ward off depression. Simply burning 350 calories three times a week through sweat-inducing activity has shown to reduce the symptoms of depression almost as effectively as antidepressants.
- You’ll boost self-esteem. Seeing even the smallest changes in your body can motivate you to continue your performance and leave you wanting more. You’ll feel good about yourself and you’ll want to show off your improved appearance.
- You can fight Alzheimer’s Disease. Exercise appears to protect the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and spatial navigation, and one of the first parts of the brain to be affected by Alzheimer’s.
- You can help prevent cancer. Exercise has been shown to aid in the prevention of several common cancers, including colon and breast cancer.
Functional FitnessYou may think you’re in shape. After all, you go to the gym and take walks during your lunch breaks. But have you ever leaned over to pick up the baby and thrown your back out? You may not be paying enough attention to your “functional fitness.” Simply put, functional fitness allows us to incorporate exercises that mimic what we do in our everyday lives, and builds strength in areas we need to get through each day. For example, you may need to squat down to get in and out of your car easily. The goal of functional fitness is to improve the relationship between the nervous system and the muscular system, and get the body used to moving in different directions from normal. Instead of doing leg extensions on the gym equipment, try lunges. Instead of heading to the leg curl machine, try squats.
The Best Pre-Workout FoodsOne key to a great workout is a great pre-workout meal. The best time to eat is about 45 minutes prior to exercising.
- It settles in your stomach well and gives long-lasting energy. Add fruit for more get-up-and-go.
- Greek yogurt. It contains a substantial amount of protein and carbohydrates, but not as much sugar as regular yogurt. Great for workouts that include plyometrics or other intense types of movement. Add fruit or grain for extra energy.
- It can help you enjoy your workout more and help reduce post-workout soreness. Instead of choosing a sugar, carbonated drink, opt for a soothing espresso or coffee.
- Eggs and grain toast. These provide the best combination of protein and slow-releasing carbohydrates, which can help you feel energized and motivated throughout your workout.
Tips for Proper Weight LossWhether your goal is to tone up or slim down, good nutrition is key. But many people fall for the latest nutritional fads that promise big benefits, like losing large quantities of weight without exercising. It probably won’t happen. Here are some tangible facts that will help you set reasonable weight loss goals and keep the weight off.
- Set small weight loss goals. Start small. You can’t lose 30 pounds in a month. Not only will your effort fail, but you will lose incentive to try. A healthy weight loss is one to two pounds a week.
- Do both cardio and strength training. For weight loss, each has benefits. Cardio exercise will help you burn large amounts of calories during exercise, while strength training will boost your metabolism, which will help your body burn calories long after your workout is done.
- Continue to eat healthy and exercise. After achieving your weight loss, maintain your healthy weight through healthy eating and exercise. Most people mistakenly return to their usual eating habits once the weight is lost, but that can resort to weight gain again.
- The smaller your body, the less calories it needs.
- Are you really hungry? Listen to your body, and if you are looking for a snack, drink a glass of water instead.