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Ask St. Joseph’s Clinic: Regular exercise has endless benefits

By Christine Newton

From a young age, we are taught that exercise is good for your heart and lungs, that it will build strong muscles, increase your energy, and help keep you at a healthy weight.

Overall, exercise keeps you fit and healthy.

However, that is just the beginning of what exercise can do for your well-being! Regular exercise can also improve your coordination and balance, improve your flexibility, and can reduce your overall risk for injury or pain. It can help prevent diseases such as diabetes, depression and heart disease. It can also help to lower blood pressure, control blood sugar, improve cholesterol, and help you maintain a healthy diet. Exercise can relieve stress, help to build self-confidence, improve your sleep quality, and help you feel more relaxed.

Studies have shown that people who are physically active tend to live longer and healthier lives. Even people who smoke can reap the benefits from being physically active.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommendations for physical activity for healthy adults is at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days per week, or 20 minutes of more vigorous activity three days per week.

You can use a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity to meet the recommendation. It can be tough to find 30 minutes a day to go to a gym and exercise, especially during the holiday season. But the good news is there are things you can do to get more physically active during your day. Here are a few ideas:

-- Take the stairs whenever you can.

-- Do some walking with colleagues after you eat lunch at work.

-- Whenever possible, stand up as opposed to sitting down.

-- Take a family walk after dinner.

-- Take your dog for a walk daily.

-- Pace the sidelines at your kids athletic games.

-- Stand up and move around during commercial breaks while watching TV.

-- Stand up and walk around while talking on the phone.

-- Walk up and down the shopping aisles at the store before you shop.

-- Walk briskly when you are running errands or while shopping.

-- Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of emailing or calling them.

Get creative and find something that works for you! Start small and continue to add things to become more active. Regular exercise will help you live a happier, healthier, and longer life.

Newton is a certified athletic trainer for St. Joseph’s Sports Medicine in Dickinson. If you have any questions related to exercise or athletic training, contact her at 701-227-7900.