This is a great question given the fact that many people believe that exercise must be either super intense or done for an extended period of time in order to be effective. Unfortunately this misconception usually leads to “all or nothing” behavior- meaning that because we perceive our workout time too limited or the intensity too low, we’re more inclined to skip it all together. In actuality, the benefits of regular exercise, even at lower intensity levels or for shorter periods of time, are numerous (CDC, 2013). By simply aiming for at least 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity, you’ll help lower a number of disease risk factors and reap the following key benefits towards better health.
Regular exercise can help you lose weight and keep it off by not only expending additional calories, but by helping insulin moderate blood sugar levels in the body-a major factor in appetite regulation.
Improved Mental Alertness and Mood
Research continues to highlight the importance of regular activity to maintain mental sharpness as we age while reducing our risk of depression. Whether one continuous workout or smaller bouts of physical activity, exercise definitely helps boost our mood and overall sense of wellness.
Activity produces “feel-good” chemicals in the brain called endorphins which serve to refocus our attention away from everyday stress and worry (Salmon, 2001). To experience this benefit at work, try taking an occasional 10-minute power walk around your building to help clear the mind of negative energy.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 70 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic sleep problems. However, those individuals who describe themselves as regular exercisers report better sleep than their sedentary counterparts-even given the same amount of sleep each night.
Wellness is about balance, not extreme “all or nothing” behaviors. The benefits of regular exercise, even at lower intensities, far outweigh the health risks of leading a sedentary lifestyle.
The Benefits of Physical Activity, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Retrieved July 10, 2013, http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/health/index.html.
Salmon P., Effects of Physical Exercise on Anxiety, Depression, and Sensitivity to Stress: A Unifying Theory. Clinical Psychology Review, 2001.
National Sleep Foundation (2013, March 4). Exercise key to good sleep. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 11, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2013/03/130304123551.htm.