It has been a brutal winter in this country for sure! Now that it is March, I dare to believe that in a few short weeks, I’ll be hiking around my neighborhood once again, and starting up again on my bike, and, in general, feeling much more friendly about the idea of exercising than I do during the winter months.
I am a fairly fervent frequent exerciser and have been for years. Still, I’m not crazy about spending hours in the gym, especially when I have to get in the cold car to get there. Exercise is an easy thing to take off the to-do list, especially during the winter.
However, the research continues, and studies continue to reveal the vast benefits of regular, consistent exercise. The fact is that being sedentary which is true for nearly half of the US population, is bad for our health. People who habitually sit have as much risk of dying as people who have bad diets or smoke. Being sedentary also increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Frankly, the lower your fitness engagement, the higher your risk of death.
It is also true that you can’t exercise your way to out of a bad diet. Using exercise to lose weight without changing your diet is asking for failure. You can change your diet and lose weight, but if you exercise and keep the diet your diet the same, you may gain some muscle, improve endurance, and be a little healthier overall, but you won’t shed many pounds. You may survive, but you will not thrive.
The good news is that combining a whole-foods, plant-based, unprocessed diet with the right exercise does wonders for your health.
Here are some reasons why exercise is the perfect partner for a healthy diet.
– Better insulin sensitivity. Exercise makes your cells and muscles more sensitive to insulin, so you don’t need as much. Less insulin means less belly fat.
– Reduced stress. A good workout relieves stress. That’s because it reduces cortisone – the stress hormone. Too much cortisol means too much insulin, which means stored belly fat and sugar cravings.
– Improved brain health. Exercise improves memory, learning and concentration, and is a better anti-depressant. It also helps to improve your mood, boost your energy, and reduce overall stress in your body and mind.
– Reduced risk for chronic disease. Exercise protects your heart and reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke. It reduces inflammation, the cause of almost every disease of aging. It balances hormones, which helps to reduce breast and other common cancers.
– Enhanced detoxification. Besides stimulating the colon, intense exercise allows your body to release toxins through your skin and boosts the detoxification of environmental toxins, which abound. Vigorous exercise will help you work up a sweat, but gentle exercise keeps your circulation going and flushes out all the toxic fluids that build up in your lymphatic system.
– Slowed aging process. If you want to turn back the clock figuratively, exercise becomes absolutely crucial.
All of these benefits are well and good, of course, but reading about them and knowing what they are will not make them yours. It’s the doing of the exercise that makes all the positive changes in your body. If the inertia that can come from a long and difficult winter and other factors makes it hard for you to put your intentions into motion, click here to see some ways to help you get started.