Exercise should be a part of every woman’s life. It can have a profound effect on physical and mental wellbeing.
People who are physically fit tend to feel better and experience fewer aches and pains. They are also at a lower risk for many health conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Regular physical activity also prevents bone loss and osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis affects significantly more women than men. The National Osteoporosis Foundation reported that eight out of 10 Americans with the condition are women.
Exercise can also help boost your mood. Progesterone and estrogen levels tend to shift throughout a woman’s life. These hormones impact fertility, brain chemistry, and mood. Physical activity helps counteract hormonally driven mood swings.
For example, women lose a natural source of serotonin, which is considered a “feel good” chemical, during their period and when they approach menopause. Exercise releases endorphins, which make a person feel relaxed and happy. It can help reduce the need for anti-depressants in some cases.
Working out also helps control weight. Women tend to gain weight as they age. Some women have trouble shedding extra pounds after pregnancy. Exercise can help burn excess calories and prevent weight gain.
Women who exercise also tend to get more restful sleep. A Sleep Foundation national poll of over 1,500 adults was conducted in 2005 and found that women had more trouble sleeping than men. This issue tended to worsen when becoming a mother or when dealing with hormonal changes.
A study of 2,600 people was published in the Journal of Mental Health and Physical Activity that found participants who engaged in 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity weekly saw a 65% improvement in sleep quality.
Women of all ages should work toward living an active lifestyle. What can you do to begin making positive changes in your life?
Take the Stairs Instead of the Elevator
An easy way to work more exercise into your day is to take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. When you’re going to the mall, work, or anywhere with a stair alternative, stick with the steps.
It may be difficult at first, but over time, it will get easier. That means your body is adjusting and you are getting used to the extra physical activity. You will burn more calories, get your heart pumping, and help keep your weight at a healthy level.
In 2013, the Wall Street Journal posted a quote from a University of Tennessee department of kinesiology professor who stated that “climbing a flight of stairs – roughly 10 steps – is equivalent to taking 38 steps on level ground.”
LiveStrong estimates that a person would have to climb around 350 flights of steps to equal a mile. You don’t have to walk up and down that many steps, of course. Just switching to stairs whenever you can throughout the day can begin to make a difference. It is also a simple way to ease into a more active lifestyle.
Pick Parking Spots That Are Further Away
Most people try to find parking spots that are close to wherever they are going. This is more convenient and requires less walking. If you are working toward a more active lifestyle, then you should embrace the opportunity to take more steps.
Instead, look for a spot that is further away. It’s ok to start a little closer if needed. Instead of parking right outside of the building when you get to work, try finding a spot that’s about halfway across the parking lot. Once the walk gets easier, push yourself further by parking closer to the back.
When parking away from a building, make sure you keep safety in mind. Only park in areas that are well-lit with good visibility. This is especially important if you will be returning to your vehicle after dark.
Schedule Group Workouts and Activities
Exercising with other people is fun and can help keep you motivated. Get a group of friends or family members together for workout sessions. This could be an evening walk, a visit to the gym, or participation in a class.
You can also change things up by doing outdoor activities with friends, like hiking, paddling, or jogging.
Doing this regularly is a good way to stay on track. People tend to be less likely to skip a workout when they feel accountable to others.
Play a Sport You Love or Try Something New
Is there a sport you love or used to play? Now is a great time to get reacquainted! Sports are fun and push us to improve performance. Whether you join a team or play casually, it’s a great way to live more actively.
You can also try new sports to keep things interesting. Look for local groups that play or join a team or class for beginners. You can gain new experiences while nurturing that active lifestyle.
Schedule Workout Time Each Week
Plan workout sessions each week. Most women should try to work toward 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. This may need to be adjusted based on your health status, age, and mobility.
A medical professional can recommend an ideal duration and difficulty level based on your needs. No matter how much time you need, make sure you schedule it. It should be treated as a necessary part of your week to ensure that you stick with it.
Try Short Exercise Sessions Instead of Long Ones
Long exercise sessions aren’t always the best option. They can be difficult to work through and challenging to fit in when you are busy.
Instead, try working in short sessions whenever you can. For example, you can do jumping jacks or jog in place for several minutes when you get up in the morning.
It’s easy to get trapped into the mindset that you have to do everything at once or nothing at all. It’s far better to do something rather than nothing, even if it’s a quick session when you can fit it in. When you make exercise work with your schedule, you will be more likely to follow through and get results.
You can get creative with it. Do some squats while watching your favorite Netflix show or take a walk while waiting for your kids at soccer or softball practice. You can even dance while making dinner or use your break at work to take a stroll around the building or parking lot.
Use VR and Mobile Apps to Make Exercise Fun
Some women find that exercise gets monotonous and boring after a while. This can lead to burnout. Combat this problem by making exercise a game. Use virtual reality (VR) or a mobile app to gamify your workout.
Mobile apps can keep track of your progress and give you a score to try and beat. Some may even incorporate mini games and virtual rewards. These apps exist for exercise, hydration, and other fitness needs.
Plan Exercises That You Can Do at Home
Going to the gym is great, but you should also have a plan to workout at home. At some point, inclement weather or other issues could make it difficult to travel. Have a routine you can do at home ready, so you have no excuse for skipping your exercise sessions.
How you handle this is up to you. If you have the space and money, you could build a small at-home gym with workout equipment. Otherwise, you can plan exercises that you can do without the equipment.
Write Your Goals Down and Make a Fitness Plan
If you want to make real progress, then you need to know where you’re going. Create a list of goals with a plan to reach them. This will help you outline a path to follow to get to where you want to be. Your plan and goals can change as you go. It should be used as a reference, so you know you’re on track.
Start Using a Fitness Tracker
Fitness tracker apps are a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to live an active lifestyle. These tools can record progress in the form of duration, number of repetitions, or weight changes. Most will compile data into a graph that helps you see how far you have come.
Look for something that’s convenient to use and can track the things that are important to you.
Before making any major life changes, you should consult a medical professional. Your doctor can assess your health status and make recommendations to help you live an active lifestyle safely and with your health in mind. Visit Complete Women’s Healthcare now to schedule a consultation.