Why Exercise Keeps You Healthy and Strong During Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic
Many of us are being asked to work from home and are having to balance two obligations simultaneously – working from home while also parenting or caregiving at the same time. It’s worth remembering that building in time each day to take care of our bodies (exercising regularly, in combination with a healthy lifestyle) remains one of our best defenses. Physical activity provides long-term health benefits and finding an exercise program you enjoy or the right training method can make the difference in getting the results you want, and keeping your health in check during a pandemic.
What Type of Activity Benefits Your Health
For most people, the easiest way to get moving is to make activity part of everyday life, like walking or cycling instead of using the car to get around. However, the more you do, the better, and taking part in activities such as sports and exercise will make you even healthier.
For any type of activity to benefit your health, you need to be moving quickly enough to raise your heart rate, breathe faster and feel warmer. This level of effort is called moderate-intensity activity. If you’re working at a moderate intensity you should still be able to talk but you won’t be able to sing the words to a song.
An activity where you have to work even harder is called vigorous-intensity activity. There is substantial evidence that vigorous activity can bring health benefits over and above that of moderate activity. You can tell when it’s vigorous activity because you’re breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you’re working at this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.
At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week is recommended, but anything is better than nothing. One study found that just 30 minutes of brisk walking increased the circulation of natural killer cells and other immune system warriors in the blood.
Benefits of Daily Exercise
Support Your Immune System
There is no magic pill guaranteed to boost your immune system and protect you from Covid-19, but there are real ways you can take care of yourself and give your immune system the best chance to do its job against respiratory illness. It’s simple – being physically fit increases your immunological fitness too. Basically, exercise increases blood flow and mobilizes white blood cells, one of the main defenses against harmful microbes.
When it comes to muscle-strengthening exercise, focus on things like dumbbells, resistance bands, resistance machines, and bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, squats and lunges. For many clients, finding quick, effective workouts is essential. Bodyweight training doesn’t require a dedicated gym and uses minimal equipment, so you can fit in a workout whenever you have some spare time, wherever you are. Bodyweight training also allows you to combine cardio and strength training, meaning you can smash that workout in the most efficient way.
Another thing to keep in mind: Your weekly workouts should engage all of the major muscles in your body.
Exercise Combats Health Conditions and Diseases
There are myriad health benefits of exercise, including lowering the incidence of various cancers, reducing the risk of excessive weight gain (with its associated health problems, including diabetes), supporting musculoskeletal health, and improving cardiovascular health, including lower risk of hypertension and stroke. Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight is, being active boosts HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol, and it decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Improve Your Mood and Mental Health
Stress hormones compromise immune function but exercise, including yoga, is very good at combatting stress. Numerous studies have shown that regular physical activity is associated with better mental health, including a reduced risk or incidence of dementia, reduced feelings of anxiety and depression, improved cognitive function, improved quality of life, improved sleep. Again, the latest neuroscience shows that even moderate physical activity can have major benefits.
Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A gym session or brisk walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier, more relaxed and less anxious. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.
Daily Exercise Controls Weight and Boosts Energy
Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.
Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. To reap the benefits of exercise, just get more active throughout your day. Consistency is key.
Physical Activity Promotes Better Sleep
Struggling to snooze during this stressful time? As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can dramatically improve the quality of your nighttime sleep, especially when done on a regular basis. What’s more, exercisers may reduce their risk for developing troublesome sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
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