Do what you can

Staying physically active may be more important now more than ever. Photo SQNSport

Motivation comes in many forms. When it comes to why you do or don’t stick to an exercise program, research shows that physical exercise that focuses on enjoyment, competence, and social interaction leads to long-lasting exercise engagement.

Dr. Kenneth Cooper, pioneer of preventative medicine at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, coined the term “aerobics” in 1968. Now 90 years old and still practicing medicine daily, he’ll tell you that about 76% of diseases in the US today are a result of our lifestyle. Numerous reports have emphasized that physical inactivity is a leading cause of death worldwide. It’s all well documented: It’s not our heredity; it’s our lifestyle, Cooper says. Changing our behavior and concentrating on lifestyle changes will get us the results we want. Especially now, during a pandemic, staying physically active may be more important than ever.

So how do we pivot to solutions and actions that can promote our health and well-being? Two drivers of behavior can maximize your success.

The first is a meaningful, personally tailored rationale. What do you really care about? For example, if family means the entire world to you, a meaningful rationale would be to recognize that exercising allows you to be the healthiest version of yourself for those that you love the most.

The second—particularly on the days that you weren’t up to it but decide to exercise anyway—is finding pleasure and satisfaction in the experience of exercising. These are integrated and intrinsic behavior drivers that lead to your success for long lasting health. They become a choice, not a chore. Make time you spent getting some exercise pleasurable and empowering.

There is much good being done worldwide of our efforts to move more and sit less. In a recent study published in the Lancet Global Health, researchers examined data from 168 countries to observe evidence supporting the advantages of healthy behaviors, including being physically active. The scientists found that almost four million lives were saved from an early death.

Equally important is to realize that the most common characteristics of the world’s longest living populations. Sardinians, Adventists and Okinawans all include daily walks. At the same time, The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that a prescription to walk 30 minutes per day could be one of the most important prescriptions a patient could receive.

We should all move our bodies more in some form every day, now more than ever. The pandemic crisis has made us aware that we can change, as our attitudes and needs continue to adapt to the new normal. Boosting our defense mechanisms through exercise is a simple way to keep our immune system healthy. Your immune system is a network of tissues, cells and organs that work together to attack foreign invaders and neutralize infection and disease. Your body identifies any threat and strategizes how to neutralize or destroy it. Every walk, hike or daily activity you do helps increase the rate at which an army of immune cells can defend against invaders and increase the odds of your immune system protecting you from harm.

It’s been said that “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Wishing is not enough; we must do.” My hope is that you do.

https://www.mtexpress.com/wood_river_journal/features/fitness-guru/article_a25e1c98-a3a5-11eb-a3e2-87a3281f3fd7.html

Why Yoga Works – The Top Reasons to Try It

malasana

Yoga is good for the mind, body and soul.

Yoga might be the only time in your busy day that is truly yours; a time when all of your attention is directed to exactly what you are doing. Today over 15 million people in the US know the value of doing just that-relaxing with yoga. The yoga that we practice today rises out of an ancient meditation heritage dating back at least 4,000 years. Fast forward to today’s crazy hectic pace, especially with the approach of the holiday season, the benefits to your physical, mental and emotional health are top reasons why yoga still works.

1. Stress relief. Yoga reduces stress by encouraging relaxation and lowering the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Yoga teaches you how to breathe more fully by taking slower, deeper breaths. Known as  pranayama, breathing more fully helps improve lung function and trigger the body’s relaxation response. By changing our pattern of breathing, we can significantly affect our body’s experience and response to stress. Other benefits include reduced blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rate,  improved immune system as well as reduced anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, and easier pregnancies.
2. Pain relief. Next time you have a headache, neck, back, or other chronic painful conditions, yoga can help. In the largest US study to date, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, yoga or stretching classes were linked to diminished symptoms from chronic low back pain, more so than a self-care book. Both the yoga and stretching class emphasized the torso and legs. Researchers found that the type of yoga, called viniyoga, which adapts and modifies poses for each student, along with breathing exercises, works because the stretching and strengthening of muscles benefit back function and symptoms. Many people with chronic pain shy away from yoga’s misleading reputation for requiring supple joints for fear of getting hurt. But the same goes for approaching any new activity with too much gusto, writes Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., in Yoga For Pain Relief . Instead of pushing yourself to your limit, think of staying in a 50-60% effort zone.

3. Better Posture & Better Bones. Yoga helps to maintain your muscularity and that helps with maintaining your posture. It also helps with stretching all the muscle groups that support better body alignment. For women, increasing research is showing that exercise is a means of preventing the risk of various cancers, particularly breast cancer. The reasons are twofold, in that both the physical effects and indirect effect of adding yoga as a form of exercise prevents weight gain.

4. Befriending Your Body. For anyone who feels ashamed or self-conscious about their body, yoga can help you become an alley with yourself instead of an adversary. Our obsession with thinness equates the physical practice as a good way to sweat/ get /thin/quick; all about the outer body. Yet yoga primarily evolved for a subtle and more powerful connection of the inner world: the mind, senses and emotions. Today 90% of all women and junior and senior high school girls, respectively, dislike their bodies and are on a diet. ( 15% of these girls are actually overweight.) It doesn’t help that classes might be packed with thin fit people. While yoga does teach you to use and discipline your body to be strong and flexible, the emphasis is on your body as a whole entity: living, changing, accepting and alive in the moment.

This article was originally published in the Idaho Mountain Express. November 16, 2012.

Connie Aronson is an American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness Specialist. Visit her at: www.conniearonson.com