From aiding with weight loss to improving your sex life and everything in between, exercise if somewhat of a "miracle cure". Indeed, it has been proven to (among other things):
- Control weight
- Combat physical and psychological health conditions (including but not limited to: depression, certain cancers and dementia)
- Improve mood and help with stress relief
- Increase metabolism and energy levels
- Promote better sleep
- Improve endurance and sex life
Case in point: it can take as little as 12 minutes to get in a full body workout that will have you gasping and on your knees, yet will bring you all the benefits of hours of training at the gym. You can easily get in your daily exercise from home, without spending a single cent and using only your own bodyweight (Although I would advocate buying an interval timer: they only cost $20 and are invaluable in High Intensity Interval Training. That was my best investment ever in my health.) Also, if you make sure to practice exercise which you enjoy, it doesn't have to be a form of modern torture!
Think of all the fun physical activities there are out there. Capoeira! Dance! Martial Arts! Walking your dog around the block! Playing with your kids! Wait, what? Yes, absolutely! Any form of physical activity counts on the meter, and it doesn't have to be a synonym of strapping on some fluorescent leg warmers and doing jumping jacks until you lose all will to live. Besides, you know that "runner's high" people sometimes talk about? It's not a myth! When you exercise, your body releases endorphins and they are its natural drug: you effectively "get high". So when you've been exercising intensely for a long period of time and you suddenly stop, you get for-real withdrawal symptoms. Now, that need not scare you as it takes a lot to get there, but you WILL get the natural high after going for a run or participating in a challenging roda.
The most important thing here is to do what you love, and not give up. If your favorite thing is running around the block but you then get -40°C weather in winter, find something else that makes you smile and gets you sweaty, don't just start staying home when winter swings by! It's always a good idea to alternate your exercise anyway so that you hit all the main muscle groups and exercise strength as well as endurance, so have a rotation of activities you enjoy. Maybe you like running with your dog in the morning, hitting your "at-home gym" after work or going for a swim at the beach. Or maybe your thing is kicking people's butts at karate, biking to work and playing with your kids in the yard when you get home. As long as it feels intense to you, that's all that matters. Whatever floats your boat, go for it. No restraint!
The only moderation I would advise is, obviously, if you have a pre-existing health condition. Always be aware of your physical limitations (asthma, broken bones, weak heart...) and don't go overboard. But you may want to try and push yourself just that little bit extra as you'll be amazed at the results on your overall well-being! Even if you're heavily physically impaired, try and find a form of exercise that works for you as the benefits you will reap from regular activity will far outweigh any negative ideas you may have. A 10 min walk or a 7 min yoga session are both better than being a couch potato!
Bottom line is: find something that works for you, your motivation and your schedule and HAVE FUN!
If you don't like the physical activity you're engaging in, you'll be much more likely to stop and fall off the wagon. If you need to, find a workout buddy to help motivate you and keep you on track like a friend or a family member. There are tons of great online resources for all types of exercise from YouTube to the C25K running program and, my personal favorite, BodyRock.Tv. Exercising doesn't have to be boring and expensive, I promise!
What are your favorite go-to forms of exercise, and how often do you indulge?