There’s a silver bullet to many of our biggest fatality risk factors in Oregon. Regular exercise has been proven to lessen the risk and severity of lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, depression, and forms of cancer.
The key gain seems to be exercise’s positive effect on inflammation in the body. While counterintuitive, since physical activity causes temporary inflammation, it contributes to a net positive gain where whole body inflammatory response is reduced. It also improves blood pressure and lowers cholesterol, improves memory, and aids in sleep and sexual dysfunction.
New studies continue to shed light on the positive impact of exercise on a number of different diseases and disorders, including further insight into how and why improvements in patient conditions are observed, as well as optimal levels of exercise. It’s worth staying on top of the research and taking advantage of the latest findings. Oncotarget, an online science and medicine journal, is a good resource. With a solid social media presence, website, and newsletter, it will help you stay up to date with current and emerging science-backed recommendations.
Current research shows that the health benefits increase with duration and intensity of exercise, but getting moving just a bit more than you currently do can have an outsize improvement on your condition. Move toward a healthier lifestyle in the New Year with better eating habits and an achievable, enjoyable exercise plan. Focus on eating more vegetables and protein, less carbs, with emphasis on whole or natural foods over packaged and prepared meals. Hydrate and sleep well. Take your personality, interests, and schedule into account when looking for an exercise option, but don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new.
The Oregon weather can be wet and stormy, particularly in winter, so you may want to change it up with a mixture of indoor and outdoor activity types. For the sedentary, bringing some long walks into your week is a good place to start. Building it into your schedule or multitasking can help with motivation and staying power. Consider walking or cycling to work or adopting a shelter dog to prompt regular walks, or making it a regular date with a friend or loved one.
If you’re a more social person, group fitness activities may be much more motivating to you than heading out the door on a solitary jog. Reclaim your youth with community sports such as soccer or winter-friendly indoor volleyball or basketball. Not a fan of team sports? Try a class based on your interests, capacity, and fitness needs. CrossFit has had several years of popularity as a challenging fitness option, and boxing is right up there for fitness intensity. Pilates or yoga provide gentler options. Dance classes offer a fun change of pace with surprising fitness benefits.
Want to stay on-trend? Projections for popular 2018 exercise picks include high-intensity interval training, bodyweight exercises, strength training, and functional fitness. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these lead the pack for peak benefits at accessible levels of effort. Circuit or interval training at high levels of intensity are recommended for growing endurance and fitness while optimizing weight loss and muscle development. Strength training and lifting can show incredible benefits as long as enthusiasts take the time to learn safe movements from a qualified coach. Bodyweight exercises are functional, affordable, and accessible, and with the rise of instructional apps, easier to get started with than ever.
Fitness-oriented gadgets such as wearables or just a smartphone with a tracking app also work well for some. Tracking your steps, calories burned, or routes and achieving new milestones or sharing that data with a community can be highly motivating and encourage you to reach new goals. Invest in a waterproof armband or fitness case for your electronics, though; you don’t want rain or sweat damaging your phone while you walk or jog to the tunes.
Incorporating regular fitness into your routine will help your health today and guard against the diseases and disorders of tomorrow. Aim for just a little more than you currently do, and take gradual steps towards a less sedentary, higher fitness lifestyle to avoid or treat diabetes, heart disease, depression, obesity, and more. Fitting fitness into your regular routine or making it a fun, social activity can help with motivation and commitment. Envisioning a healthier, happier future with loved ones by investing in your health can be another way to stick with the plan. Start the New Year off right by building a better future for yourself through increased exercise.