Level Up – the Real Benefits of Exercise

 

“Move more” has been a common mantra for health for decades. But, what does that even mean? What kind of exercise counts? How much do I need?

 

Maybe the biggest question here is: “What are the true health benefits, anyway?”

 

I want to share with you the real, proven health benefits of exercise. Because there are some; there actually are lots!

 

Plus, if you do heavy workouts and need a replenishing drink, I’ve included a delicious recipe for you too.

 

The True Health Benefits of Exercise

 

Exercise. It can improve your health on all levels. We’re not just talking about being fitter and stronger. We’re talking about overall health and longevity.

 

Regular exercise improves your heart health, brain health, muscle and bone health, diabetes, and arthritis. Beyond those, it also reduces stress, boosts moods, increases your energy, and can improve your sleep. And exercise prevents death from any cause (“all cause mortality”).

 

Convinced yet?

 

The benefits of exercise come from improving blood flow, and reducing inflammation and blood sugar levels. They come from moving your muscles (including your heart muscle) and pulling on your bones.

 

You don’t need to go overboard on exercise to get these amazing health results. As little as 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days/week is enough.

 

And you don’t have to do a particular kind of exercise. All four types of exercise have health benefits. They are:

  • Endurance (brisk walking, jogging, yard work, dancing, aerobics, cycling, swimming, skiing, hiking)
  • Strength (climbing stairs, carrying groceries, lifting weights, using a resistance band or your body weight, Pilates)
  • Balance (standing on one foot, Tai Chi)
  • Flexibility (stretching, yoga)

 

Don’t forget, all exercise counts, even if it’s not doing a sport or in a gym. Weekend hikes, walking to the store and doing household chores also count towards your weekly exercise goal.

 

Let me take a minute to prove to you how healthy exercise really is. Here are a few key points.

 

Exercise for heart health

 

Exercise reduced cardiac mortality by 31% in middle aged men who previously had a heart attack.

 

Regular exercise reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension (high blood pressure).

 

Exercise for brain health

 

Exercise can improve physical function and quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease. It also reduces changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Exercise improved mental functions by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is involved in learning and memory. It also increases the size of the part of the brain for memory and learning (the “hippocampus”); this was shown mostly with aerobic exercise.

 

Exercise for muscle and bone health

Regular physical activity can help maintain strong muscles and bones; this is particularly true for strength exercises. As we age, we naturally start to lose muscle mass and bone density. So, to prevent osteoporosis, exercise regularly.

 

PRO TIP: And don’t forget that balance exercises and Tai Chi can help prevent falls.

 

Exercise for diabetes

 

People with diabetes who exercise have better insulin sensitivity and HbA1C values (the marker of glycemic control).

 

Exercise does this because by contracting your muscles, you’re fueling them with sugar in your blood. This helps to manage blood sugar levels better than without exercise.

 

Conclusion

 

These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health benefits of exercise.  By doing just 30 minutes 5 days/week, you can vastly improve your health. Since there are different benefits for different types, try mixing up what you do throughout the week. You don’t even need an “official” workout. Walking to the grocery store or doing household chores can count too.

 

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”  That’s my motto!

 

If you’re just starting, then pick something you enjoy, get some accountability (exercise tracker or a buddy), and start.

 

What’s your favorite exercise and how often do you do it?

 

Recipe (exercise recovery): Coconut Water Refresher

Serves 2

 

1 cup coconut water

2 cups watermelon

½ tsp lime juice

1 dash salt

1 cup ice

2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

 

Instructions

Blend the first four ingredients until well mixed. Add ice and pulse until ice is crushed.

 

Pour into glasses or water bottle and add chia seeds. Shake/stir before drinking.

 

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: The chia seeds add extra fiber, protein, and omega-3s.

 

 

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References:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFBBjynBpSw&t=3s

 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110

 

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-benefits-of-exercise/

 

https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/Fracture/prevent_falls_ff.asp

 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/exercise-is-good-for-diabetes

 

https://authoritynutrition.com/15-ways-to-lower-blood-sugar/

 

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/healthy-movement

 

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/exercise-physical-activity

Mindfulness and Meditation…Do They Really Work?

Well…yes, they do really work. The fact is, science shows definite health benefits for people who use mindfulness and meditation.

 

Before we dive in, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page when we say “mindfulness” and “meditation.”

 

“Meditation” is the ancient practice of connecting the body and mind to become more self-aware and present. It’s often used to calm the mind, ease stress, and relax the body.  I like to set aside a few moments at the end of each day for quiet meditation in addition to my end-of-yoga-practice meditation time in the morning as often as possible.

 

Practicing “mindfulness” is one of the most popular ways to meditate. It’s defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Continue reading “Mindfulness and Meditation…Do They Really Work?”

Finding Stability… with my blood sugar!

How Do I Keep My Blood Sugar Stable?

 

Oh, the words “blood sugar.”

 

Does it conjure up visions of restrictive eating, diabetes medications, or insulin injections?

 

Blood sugar is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood. You need the right balance of sugar in your blood to fuel your brain and muscles.

 

The thing is, it can fluctuate. A lot.

 

This fluctuation is the natural balance between things that increase it; and things that decrease it. When you eat food with sugars or starches (“carbs”), then your digestive system absorbs sugar into your blood. When carbs are ingested and broken down into simple sugars, your body keeps blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin allows excess sugar to get it out of your bloodstream and into your muscle cells and other tissues for energy Continue reading “Finding Stability… with my blood sugar!”

Burnt-Out-Mom Syndrome & Adrenal Fatigue

Let’s face it, life can get super busy more often than not.  We’ve got a lot on our plates most of the time and can end up feeling like we are barely able to balance it all.  Fatigue, cravings, inability to sleep, and mood swings are REAL!

And common.

 

Adrenal fatigue is thought to be one of the (many) health issues that can be attributed to our high-stress lifestyles.

 

However, because there is no widely accepted definitive test for adrenal fatigue, it’s still quite controversial.

 

Let’s dive into what we know about adrenal fatigue, and learn some ways to deal with it, including a non-food recipe (at the bottom). Continue reading “Burnt-Out-Mom Syndrome & Adrenal Fatigue”

Momma, Feed Your Brain!

The Gut-Brain Connection: How To Feed Your Brain

 

If there was ever a call for “digestive health,” this is it!

 

gut brain.pngYes, it’s true. Your gut is considered your “second brain.”

 

There is no denying it anymore.

 

And because of the new scientific discoveries about the vagus nerve, the enteric nervous system, and the amazing influence your gut microbes can have, it’s no wonder what you eat feeds not only your body but can directly affect your brain. Continue reading “Momma, Feed Your Brain!”

Take A Moment…

Let yourself feel how you feel. Don’t let it consume you, but allow yourself to process what’s going on. After awhile, hopefully, you can gain some insight into the experience.

Yesterday was a very difficult day for me. Something unexpected happened with a work project that is near & dear to my heart & in the moment I was completely blindsided by the development (although in retrospect I should’ve seen the signs).

The person who is my my sounding board, my creativity cohort, & my biggest supporter is out of town, so I felt very alone & lost. My kids did their best to help me, but what had to happen was feeling all the feelings. It was exhausting & there were about a dozen things I really wanted to get accomplished, but instead I spent the day working through my thoughts & emotions as best I could. I ate comfort food (yes… it was potatoes! Lol!), I cried, I slept, I organized stuff-whatever I needed to do in that moment.

Today, I’m still fragile, but I’m up & about and working on one of my other favourite work projects.

Life is not always smooth sailing, we do the best we can. And if that means having a day where we hide at home so we can process our challenges then so be it. No judgement. Be gentle with yourselves.

We’re in this together. ✨💛✨

Busy or Not, Breakfast is a Must!

Sometimes I’m just too busy to have a proper sit-down breakfast #momlife, and sometimes I’m just not hungry… BUT I always make sure I have something in me to start my day off on the right foot and smoothies are my go-to when nothing else is likely to happen.

It is blueberry season in my neck of the woods right now so I’ve stocked up and have an abundance of these amazing little antioxident loaded gems, both fresh & frozen now. (Antioxidants protect your body from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage your cells and contribute to aging and diseases)

This super simple, totally tasty smoothie is something you can enjoy year-round AND the kids love it too! Continue reading “Busy or Not, Breakfast is a Must!”

Free to Create a Life I Love (a story of self-preservation)

Have you ever heard the story about how if you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump right out (literally saving its own skin); but if you place a frog in a pot of water then very slowly turn the heat up over time, it will boil alive…  Ick, but wow, right?

That was me.  I was the frog in the pot. Until 7 years ago anyway, and it was only because my Momma Bear instincts got activated that I was able to see my situation for what it was and jump out before it was too late. Continue reading “Free to Create a Life I Love (a story of self-preservation)”

To Cook, or Not to Cook. That is the question…

Raw vs. Cooked – Which Contains More Vitamins and Minerals?

 

Let’s finally put an end to the debate of raw vs. cooked.

 

Of course, in the grand scheme of a well-balanced, nutrient-dense, varied, whole foods diet, the cooked vs. raw debate isn’t that critical for most people.

 

Where this can become a consideration is for vitamin and mineral deficiencies (or “insufficiencies”). These may be due to digestion or absorption issues, or avoidance of certain foods (due to allergies, intolerances, or choice).

 

And I’ll tell you that the answer isn’t as simple as “raw is always better” or “cooked is always better.”  Continue reading “To Cook, or Not to Cook. That is the question…”

Feeling Snacky? Me too!

Five Weight-Loss Friendly Snacks You Will Love

 

The words “weight-loss” and “snacks” can appear in the same sentence…

But that might also bring thoughts of “tasteless,” “cardboard,” and “completely unsatisfying.”

 

Right?

 

Let me give you my best weight-loss friendly snacks that aren’t just nutritious but also delicious!

 

What’s my criteria you ask? Continue reading “Feeling Snacky? Me too!”

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