Research repeatedly supports that exercise brings about mental, physical, psychological and emotional benefits. Exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on stress, mood, anxiety, depression and cognitive function.
While requiring someone to exercise is an ineffective method for decreasing symptoms, choosing to engage in exercise has been found to be just as effective if not more effective than traditional therapies and medications. However, for these improvements to be seen, a minimum of five consistent weeks of exercise is needed.
The enjoyment of exercise strongly correlates to improvements seen through exercise. Additionally, individuals who exercise for enjoyment are more likely to stick with it than those who are doing it because they have to. When activities are based on personal satisfaction, pleasure and fun, the activity is more likely to be maintained. It is a strong predictor of long-term adherence to exercise. Exercising to achieve a certain look or weight can be shortlived. In fact, more than 50 percent of novice exercisers who started an exercise program to achieve a certain look or weight will quit when they do not see their desired outcome.
Most people will engage in exercise for one of four reasons: prevention, disease management, injury rehabilitation or to improve overall health. To fully understand that the benefits of exercise outweigh the consequences or cost, you must be aware of how your environment and situations influence your overall well-being. By linking positive thoughts about an activity with future benefits and desirable outcomes, the rate of success for maintaining exercise motivation is much greater.
Lack of time is cited as the No. 1 reason people don't exercise. While people actually do have the time, the perception is that exercise takes too much time. To overcome this perception, look at the next 24 hours and schedule it, even if it is just a 10-minute walk around the block. The fact that you do it is much more important than the time of day or length of time.
If you have a tendency to start and stop an exercise program, it is best to have someone you can be accountable to - a workout partner or a trainer or coach you regularly check in with. Even joining a group of like-minded fitness individuals or a gym can increase the rate of success. This is especially true for novice exercisers. While exercising in your own home may sound ideal, studies show that at-home exercisers are twice as likely to discontinue a program than if they were in a group setting or gym.
Whether you are initiating an exercise program to bring back your love of fitness or because there is a sense of urgency to do so because of current health status, it is imperative that you have a supportive network of friends and family who regularly exercise. View exercise as an added value to your health, establish daily routines, and stay connected with your supportive network.
Missy Corrigan is executive of community health for Sumter Family YMCA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 773-1404.
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