Exercise - an essential pillar of health
Updated: Aug 9, 2018
If I’m completely honest I’ve never been in to exercise. I was always a little mystified when friends would approach me and say “I’ve just cycled 20 miles” or “run for 10 miles and I feel amazing!”.
Don’t get me wrong I also wanted to feel amazing, don’t we all? But I just didn’t seem to have this bug like they did.
Each morning I take my dog to the park to do her morning business and as soon as she is off the lead, she runs, literally as fast as she can and I see this doggy smile appear across her face. This is because when you exercise your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception to pain and also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. This ‘natural high’ is what my friends were eluding to when they were telling me they felt amazing after exercising.
The body has many different systems all working together in perfect synastry to perform balance and homeostasis. One of those systems is the endocrine system which regulates the production of hormones which are the chemicals that control cellular functions. Hormones can affect a number of different cells; however, they only influence the ones with specific receptor sites. Hormones control a number of physiological reactions in the body including energy metabolism, reproductive processes, tissue growth, hydration levels, synthesis and degradation of muscle protein, and mood. Hormones are responsible for both building new muscle and helping to burn fat. There at least 8 hormones involved in exercise. You may have heard of some of them? They are; insulin, glucagon, cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine, testosterone, human growth factor and insulin-like growth factor.
Each have a different role either in increasing or decreasing function of our cells and blood vessels and are massively improved in their efficiency if they are exercised regularly. For example, epinephrine, often referred to as adrenaline because it is produced by the adrenal gland, elevates cardiac output, increases blood sugar (to help fuel exercise), promotes the breakdown of glycogen for energy and supports fat metabolism. How amazing is that?
So what do you do, if like me, you don’t initially like exercise?
Well think carefully about what you do like? I love being outside in nature and I love walking my dog, so we spend a lot of time walking. We’ve built it up gradually and now it’s hard to stop us! Now we have a routine and that is each morning, before breakfast, we walk a circular route for an hour which is about 3.5 miles fairly briskly. As we haven’t had any breakfast we burn fat, not calories as we’ve been on a natural fast since the evening before. This may not work for everybody if maybe, your blood sugar levels tend to be a bit high or very low, so do consult a health practitioner first and seek advice. Now that we’re confident in our walking ability and well-prepared with plenty of healthy snacks and water, we’re, challenging ourselves by walking stretches of the South West Coastal Path and enjoying the challenge of walking for extended periods. It’s free exercise and we personally love the peace and quiet, sort of meditative space that walking offers. Everyone is different. You might enjoy walking in company so maybe call a friend and ask them to come out walking with you or join a walking group. Maybe you like team sports? Netball, football or badminton. If you enjoy running, then there are lots of running clubs popping up all over the place. Facebook is a fantastic resource to find people to do exercise with as so many people need a little motivation and support to get out there. Remember it takes 21 days to form a habit so having an exercise buddy can be a great support on the days when you’re feeling like you just don’t want to get out there. Low resistance activities are a great place to start if you haven’t exercised in a while or are carrying a lot of excess weight. Maybe you could try swimming, an aqua class or cycling?
What about dancing, or gardening or a little extra vigorous housework?
My other passion is yoga. I attend two early morning classes a week and without a doubt, they have completely transformed my life for so many different reasons. My day after a yoga class just runs really smoothly and I feel completely ‘in flow’. Any stresses, I deal with without any bother and then just let them go. My body is fit, toned, suppler, and more flexible than it has ever been. It is great resistance exercise as you’re only ever supporting your own body weight and most importantly I enjoy it. As I’ve got better it’s improved my confidence and made me feel very centred and grounded AND proud of my achievements. It’s also had a knock on effect because I feel better, and exercise regularly, I need good fuel for my body so I’m more mindful of what I eat and drink in order to sustain my exercise joy. I’ve also lost loads of weight without planning to and my skin is peachy, bright and vibrant!
It might be difficult to get started with an exercise programme but your mind and body will love you more if you do. It really is the ultimate self-care gift you can give yourself so if you do need any help devising a plan to get you started then do please give me a call as it would be my complete pleasure to help and support you.
Here’s a little affirmation to keep you going. Write it on lots of post-it pads and put them around the house, your work and your car.
“I am grateful for my healthy body. I love life!”