Our bodies are designed to be regularly active, but this does not align with the lifestyle most of us have of sitting most of the day. An active lifestyle promotes overall well-being, physical strength, better mood, focus, more energy and better productivity. Zoha Matin, nutritionist and fitness enthusiast warns that “a sedentary lifestyle can potentially lead to many health issues down the line.” Keep reading to find out more on exactly why movement is so important for our bodies!
Importance Of Exercise On Our Physical And Mental Well-Being
Zoha says exercise impacts all of our bodily functions and can sometimes be the best medicine. It enhances our blood circulation which in turn helps deliver more oxygen and nutrients to all of our body systems including the skin, brain, and digestive tract. Zoha highlights some of the main body systems that can be greatly impacted by exercise (or lack thereof):
Exercise has anti-aging benefits. Regular movement delivers nutrients like antioxidants and oxygen to the skin surface which keeps it looking healthy and promotes collagen product. This also promotes skin cell turnover, keeping it glowy and fresh.
Exercise affects the brain centers that are linked to memory and learning, thus improving brain function. It can boost concentration and cognitive ability, making it easier to focus and also reducing the risk of cognitive degeneration.
“Exercise causes the body to release “feel good” hormones called endorphins. Endorphins instantly give you a sense of well-being and happiness”, says Zoha. This is why most people experience an instant improvement of mood when they exercise. It can positively impact mental health by reducing anxiety, depression and self-doubt.
Zoha mentions that although it is often overlooked, exercise plays a role in the digestive process as well. The digestive system helps break down the food we eat to send nutrients all throughout our body. “Exercise brings more blood flow to our digestive tract resulting in stronger intestinal contractions and more digestive hormones.” Thus, it helps push out the digestive waste through our body and promotes regular bowel movements, reducing constipation. It can also help reduce stomach cramps, gas and bloating.
Side Effects Of A Sedentary Lifestyle
Zoha mentions that surprisingly enough, people that do not exercise tend to feel more lethargic. Sedentary people tend to have higher heart rates and lower oxygen consumption than active individuals. The body needs oxygen to transform nutrients to energy which means, less oxygen equals less energy. Not exercising regularly can also make it difficult to focus, lead to weight gain and cause a fluctuation in mood. There are also various health risks associated with inactivity such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure etc.
How To Find Motivation
As a fitness enthusiast, Zoha knows that many women lack motivation when it comes to exercising. According to her, it’s because they don’t enjoy the form of movement they are doing; they are focusing on what they should do, rather than what they want to do. The truth is there are so many different ways to get active, and there is an option for everyone. Brainstorm all the physical activities that you enjoy doing and choose one daily based on how you feel. This can include yoga, zumba, running, weights, etc. “Having a menu of various activities to choose from will keep you interested and motivated”. You can try finding a friend to work out with to make it more enjoyable, plus you’ll be able to encourage and support one another throughout. Research also shows that we are more likely to follow through with our goals if we announce them to others. Zoha advises you to tell your family or friends your goals for the next month and have them check in with you regularly.
Exercising Without A Gym
Not everyone may have access to a gym membership, but there are many ways you can still get your daily movement in. Walking, jogging and cycling outdoors or around the park are all great ways to exercise with minimal supplies needed. “Homes workouts are also a great option. There are hundreds of YouTube channels, apps and virtual fitness classes that are fun and can fit your busy schedule”.
Zoha Matin is double certified by CanFitPro (the Canadian Fitness Professionals organization) in personal training and group fitness instruction. She also possesses a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Human Nutrition from Canada and is an avid fitness enthusiast. You can find her on instagram at @zo.the.nutritionist, as well as on her website here.