Exercise your way to health, fitness and happiness

soccer ballFor some of us exercise is a chore, for others it’s a joy. We all know exercise is good for us, but most of us don’t do enough for good health. Doctors estimate that between 65% and 85% of the world’s population do not exercise enough.

There are plenty of excuses not to exercise, the most common being “I don’t have time.” Make time. If we can do non essential things, we can exercise. It’s vital for health, fitness and happiness.

The benefits are worth it. Professor Mario Maranhao, president of the World Heart Federation said, “Moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk for 30 minutes most days, helps control weight, cuts stress, anxiety and depression.”

In fact studies show that jogging for 30 minutes three times a week can be as good as psychotherapy in treating depression; and there’s more good news. If jogging isn’t for you, any type of exercise can reduce depressive symptoms.

For health and happiness we need to exercise as much as we need to sleep, breathe and eat.

How can exercise enhance health, happiness and fitness?
How much exercise do we need to beat depression?
What type of exercise is best for extra happiness?
What are some tips to enjoy exercise?

How can exercise enhance health, happiness and fitness?

We can gain many benefits from exercise. Exercise can, for example,:

  • help prevent and treat anxiety and depression
  • reduce stress and anger
  • improve concentration and memory
  • increase confidence and self esteem
  • improve the immune system, so reduce the risk of getting a number of illnesses
  • help prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers
  • enhance metabolism
  • improve muscle strength and tone
  • strengthen bones, so reduce the risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones)
  • help people lose weight and maintain weight
  • improve our quality of sleep
  • increase energy levels
  • improve balance, coordination and agility
  • reduce the chance of falls in the elderly
  • reduce high blood pressure
  • reduce high cholesterol

Still don’t feel like exercising? Here’s some food for thought: the World Heart Federation has warned that being inactive is as bad for health as smoking a packet of cigarettes every day!

How much exercise do we need to beat depression?

The Mayo Clinic in U.S.A. says research suggests that to significantly improve depression symptoms, people might need to do at least 30 minutes of exercise a day at least three to five days a week. Less exercise, as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time, can improve mood in the short term. Dr. Vickers-Douglas says, “Small bouts of exercise may be a great way to get started if it’s initially too hard to do more.”

Remember, we need to continue exercising to reap the benefits.

If we can, for extra health benefits also do some vigorous exercise a few times a week.

Experts recommend that children do at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity everyday for good health.

What type of exercise is best for extra happiness?

The American Psychological Association has highlighted key results of research that analyzed 80 studies of exercise and depression. The research team concluded that although walking and jogging were the most frequent forms of exercise researched, all types of exercise reduced depression to some degree. The longer the exercise program and the more exercise sessions, the greater the decrease in depression.

What are some tips to enjoy exercise?

Obviously if exercise is fun you are likely to continue doing it; if it’s not fun you will probably stop. How can you enjoy exercise more? Try these tips.

  • Choose something you like. You might have to try a few different exercises until you find one you enjoy, but it’s worth the effort.
  • To prevent boredom, do more than one type of exercise.
  • Exercise with friends.
  • Exercise to music.
  • Gradually build up your level of fitness. If you do too much too soon you could suffer aches and pains and stop exercising all together.
  • Join an exercise group. There are plenty to choose from including martial arts, aerobics, running and walking groups.
  • Do a team sport. You might make friends in your team – a boost for happiness.
  • Exercise in beautiful surroundings – in the park, on the beach, in the mountains… instead of in front of the TV.
  • Set realistic and achievable exercise goals. Whether it’s losing weight or toning muscles, you’ll feel a sense of pride and accomplishment achieving your goals.
  • Challenge obstacles to exercise. If it’s raining and you want to go for a walk, wear wet-weather gear or exercise indoors instead. If you can’t join a gym, then walk and lift weights at home.

Regular exercise is vital. Just half an hour of moderate exercise on most days of the week can make a big difference to your health, happiness and fitness. Enjoy exercise and make it part of your lifestyle.

written by Nyomi Graef

References:
Active kids are healthy kids [pdf], 2004, Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government,
http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/9D7D393564FA0C42CA256F970014A5D4/$File/kids_phys.pdf

An active way to better health [pdf], 1999, Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government,
http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/phd-physical-activity-adults-pdf-cnt.htm/$File/adults_phys.pdf

Dayton, T, 2008, Exercise: The Best Antidepressant Ever?, The Huffington Post,
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-tian-dayton/exercise-the-best-antidep_b_106683.html

Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms, 2008, Mayo Clinic,
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression-and-exercise/MH00043

Exercise Helps Keep Your Psyche Fit, 2004, American Psychological Association,
http://www.apa.org/research/action/fit.aspx

Get out and get active [pdf], 2004, Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government,
http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/0D0EB17A5B838081CA256F9700136F60/$File/youth_phys.pdf

Health Benefits of Physical Activity, 2004, MedicineNet.com,
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=10074

Lack of exercise ‘damages heart’, 2002, BBC News,
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2275855.stm

Physical activity and healthy ageing [pdf], 2005, National Heart Foundation of Australia,
http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/GP-Physical-activity-and-healthy-ageing.pdf

Physical inactivity ‘as bad as smoking’, 2002, MailOnline,
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-139483/Physical-inactivity-bad-smoking.html

Somerville, R (Ed.), 1997, The Alternative Advisor, Virginia, USA: Time-Life

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12 Responses to “Exercise your way to health, fitness and happiness”

  1. Bill Miller says:

    Wow. A New Year but where are the new posts? Please write something new 🙂 – Bill

  2. […] Exercise your approach to health, aptness as well as complacency | Extra Happiness […]

  3. Happiness is not about being immortal nor having food or rights inone’s hand. It’s about having each tiny wish come true, or havingsomething to eat when you are hungry or having someone’s love when youneed love.

  4. […] Beat Depression and Stress with Exercise | Health & FitnessDont Let Depression Ruin Your Life Exercise your way to health, fitness and happiness | Extra Happiness […]

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  6. Tom says:

    I would agree exercise is very useful for an individual, it enhances ones mood, helps the circulation in our body. Thanks so much for this blog so helpful.

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  9. Nice blog having nice information. some times we ignore this sort of things & also suffer a lot as well. However we can save a lot with the assistance of these tips for example time etc.

  10. Sigamoney says:

    Dear Colleague
    I am from Cape Town South Africa. After running more than 13 000 kilometres in the last few years which included the London and New York Marathons I wrote the above book about wellness and being happy through exercise. As a working class child I demonstrate that one can change ones life and create happiness. I achieved this through running and disciplining the mind. The synopsis is located below.
    Best
    Sigamoney
    http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000679586/long-distance-running-calming-the-mind-and-creating-the-conditions-for-happiness.aspx
    Synopsis
    People could be happy at any one moment and suddenly feel sad. This feeling of mood swings is a result of what one thinks at any point in time. Women, men and children struggle with what they think. People experience a lot of pain and pleasure as a result of their thoughts. Thousands of people find switching off from daily work a massive struggle. Some of these people occupy very senior positions in various companies including those in executive positions. This book is a self- help tool to help calm one’s mind. It suggests ways of avoiding negative thoughts and provides insight into silencing the stream of thoughts we experience daily. By providing guidance on training the mind, it offers insights into not allowing one’s negative thoughts affect one emotionally. The book provides illuminating detail on the mind, memory, physical as well as the spiritual composition of the human mind. A key dimension of this book is that it talks to the elusive concept of happiness. It attempts a more realistic definition of happiness and suggests ways in which one can create the conditions for happiness

  11. Nyomi says:

    Hi Sigamoney,

    Congratulations on publishing your book recently! It’s a fantastic achievement, along with your other successes! Exercise, happiness and positive thinking are a few of my passions, so I’m interested in your book.

    Thanks for commenting and for sharing information about your book and life.

    All the best,

    Nyomi

  12. Anonymous says:

    Yes, you’re right. I should look for something dynamic and interesting. I am not really sure what my preferences are, thus, I’ll check different types of sport club

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