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  • Monika Getty

Exercise: Yee Haw!

Maybe you can tell by my sarcastic title that I don't love exercise; I'm not one of those people that are all bubbly and energetic talking about how great exercise is. To be honest, I exercise because I know it's good for me. I mean, I can't complain about how I look and feel if I don't do something about it, right? I try to exercise every morning before work, because I'm too tired at the end of my day to do much and it's a great way to start my day off right.

You don't need a gym membership or lots of equipment to get the benefits of working out. I'm a very frugal person, so I don't like to spend money unnecessarily; also I'm a complete klutz so I really don't need anyone witnessing me falling over and tripping over myself as I work out at home except for my dog. Plus I'm sure I don't look glamorous doing so, unlike those pictures gyms put up of happy, beautiful people with their perfect hair and makeup. I highly doubt those models would look that good if they were actually doing what they appear to be doing!

So first, let's look at the benefits of exercise:

* It can help control weight - exercise can help you maintain or lose weight. When you engage in any physical activity, you burn calories; the more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. While dieting alone can actually reduce your metabolism, regular exercise has been shown to increase your metabolism helping you lose weight. Doing both aerobic and resistance training maximizes fat loss and maintains muscle mass so it's best for keeping the weight off.

* It helps combat health conditions and diseases - regular exercise can help to prevent or manage many health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, chronic pain, depression, etc. It also helps to improve your cognitive function by increasing oxygen to the brain, keeping your brain healthy. Exercise has been shown to cause the hippocampus, a part of the brain that's vital for memory and learning, to grow in size, keeping your memory sharp.

* It can make you feel happier - exercise has been shown to improve your mood, decreasing feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. It does this by causing changes in the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety, can increase brain sensitivity for the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine (which relieve feelings of depression) and increase the production of endorphins, which are known to help produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain.

* It can increase your energy levels - regular physical activity improves both your muscle strength and endurance. It delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues helping your cardiovascular system to work more efficiently which gives you more energy to do your daily routine. This is true even for those suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and other serious illnesses.

I could go on about all the benefits of exercise, so if you want to learn more check out this article:

So how do you start to incorporate exercise into your daily routine when you're a busy person? Try these simple ways to start off with:

* Walk or bike to work if possible

* Take the stairs instead of the elevator

* Park farther away or if you take public transit, get off a stop early and walk the extra distance

* Go for a walk on your lunch break; get your coworkers to join you and help motivate each other!

* Have face to face conversations instead of emailing or texting coworkers

* Walk to the break room, bathroom or water cooler every 90 minutes or so

* Stand up often at your desk, move around, do some stretches

* If you're waiting in line, move your body: do calf raises, stretches, standing crunches

* Take your dog for a walk or play with your pets

* Dance around the house just for fun!

* Clean; you have to do it anyways plus it totally counts as exercise

* If you're watching TV get up and move around on commercial breaks

One of my favourite websites for exercise is Fitness Blender. It's run by a couple that do all kinds of free exercise videos, either by themselves or together. They're doing the exercises with you, often huffing and puffing right along with you, not yelling at you to do 10 more. The free routines can range from easy to hard, a couple of minutes to an hour or more, can be cardio, strength training, pilates, yoga, HIIT, kettlebell, whatever suits you. Many of their routines require no equipment other than an exercise mat if you're working on a hard surface. You can keep track of your favourite videos, find healthy recipes and find more information on healthy living. And did I mention most of it is free?

Exercise benefits both your body and your brain, making you feel better overall. You can exercise a few minutes several times a day if you don't have a bigger chunk of time available. 10 minutes in your day is better than no minutes, and if you start to make it part of your daily routine, those 10 minutes can add up as you start to feel better and do more. So get up off your chair or couch and start moving!

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