Stay Active !

Surprise, you have a body!

First of all, you have to realize that you have a body that supports you. The purpose of your body is to do whatever you want, and thus, it supports what you are willing to do every day: going somewhere, lift something or whatever. In order to be in shape, your body has to work and to be trained. Unfortunately, our evolution has drastically reduced our activity and we do not exercise our body as we used to. Think about 100 years ago or even 50 years ago, people where active most of the day, working in the farm, a factory or other physical activity. Even if the women did not have a work and stayed at home to raise kids, they move and stay active. Nowadays, many people work in offices, seating all days long in front of a screen and not being so active. And most of our duties are done by machines.

Our goal is not to explain evolution of mankind but rather to analyse why this change has a so important impact on your weight. In fact, as we no longer exercise, we do not burn calories. Loosing weight is pretty good and you have to change the calories balance. But this is more easy to do when the calories expense is large and, without any exercise, you do not have so much room and even no margin when you eat some extra calories during a party.

In addition to the weight impact, this becomes a vicious circle: because you are not active, you are not willing to exercise because your body is no longer used to be stressed. Nowadays, people even do not walk are try to get the closest parking spot to the mall ! Most people do not realize how much calories they put in their body by buying diner outside but many folks just use a delivery service: they are even not able to walk to get the food that make them fat !

So, you just need to put an end to that non-sense and be active again. The goal is not to participate to the next Olympic challenge but just to get a body that will support you for your daily duties: doing the laundry, gardening, etc. You would need to maintain your body in good shape and by exercising, you will consume more calories and build muscles. Again, the goal is not to do sports (like running, soccer or whatever) but being active (cleaning your house, walk, etc.).

Identify the Activity you need

You need to identify what type of activity you need to what you are doing. The purpose is to have a balance :

  • If you have a physical work, then, you will rather focus on the diet and exercise one hour twice a week and can mix the intensity from low to medium
  • If your work is mostly inactive (such as office, administrative, etc), you will need to focus on the diet and exercise more often. Four to five times a week is a good balance with a lot or cardio at a high intensity

Also, you will need to identify what you are able to do. If you are overweight and obese, running is definitively not an option: running will stress your joints, increase your heartbeat too high so that you will probably finish at the hospital quickly. In that case, start to walk one hour a day and try to just swap bad habits with new, healthier ones. For example, instead of driving, walk (and thus, one hour will be really easy to do !). Or also, park further to the shops and walk ! And take the stairs !

If you are not too overweight or want to maintain your body, walking, running or biking is a good option (what about biking instead of driving ? you may save gas and reduce pollution). There is an example of different activities classified by intensity:

  • High-intensity: running, biking, rowing, rock climbing, taking the stairs
  • Medium-intensity: walking, hiking, muscle training, ashtanga yoga
  • Low-intensity: shopping, gardening, general yoga

You also have to choose an activity you will enjoy over time. Because being active is something you would endorse as a daily habit, you should rather do something you like. So, pick something you like to do, train and enjoy !

But you do not have to consider physical activity as a drama and this is also a good way to connect with other people. This is a good way to socialize and exchange good practice to exercise, stay active and meet people that are just … like you ! So, go ahead, search on google the closest club next to your home. Exercising in a group is definitively something you will like and you can get also support if you experience some difficulties.

On the other hand, exercising can become an addiction and some people become obsessed to exercise and increase the calories expenses. While exercising has definitively major benefits, too much exercise would have negative impact and can also lead to serious injuries, either physical (knee or bones injury) or psychological (dependence to exercise, isolation, stop to socialize, etc.). A good guideline is to exercise at most 60 to 90 minutes a day and never do more, except when training for a particular event. If you just want to stay in a good shape, a good guideline is to exercise one hour a day with medium to high-intensity activity.

Impact on health and life

Exercising has definitively a significant impact on your health and life. Among the positive impacts, the most important are:

  • Reduce illness: as you exercise your body, it will be more willing to react to external threats. As a result, you will have a better immune system and defense when being sick. A cough, a cold will likely not even impact you.
  • Decrease cancer rate: there is different scientific studies showing connection between some cancer and obesity. Not all cancers are related to obesity and it also depends on the kind of fat you have (intra-muscular fat, the one on the belly is more likely related to cancer).
  • Improve sleeping: by exercising, you will likely be more tired at the end of the day. As a result, you will sleep better. Bonus: if you loose weight, you will likely no longer snore at night.
  • Improve self-confidence: as you look like you want (at least on the long run), you build self-confidence and you feel better. Social interaction is easier and you are less shy to express yourself.
  • Do more stuff: as your body is used to be exercised, you can do more things on the same day. You will probably be very impressed by the number of things you can do after some months: exercising, going out with friends, having a ride with your kids, being active is definitively something what will help you to do more and better.

On the other side, keep in mind that exercising too much can also significant impacts, such as sleep deprivation (you exercise lately and wake up early to work out), lack of social activity (you hit the gym rather than staying with your family or friends) or just injure your body (bones/joints injury). Once again, the most important thing is to find the right balance. Take your time, start to exercise, vary different patterns and find your own pace.

Maintain the activity

One of the most important thing is to stay active and never stay as a vegetable. You do not need to train like crazy, just to make sure you have your daily dose of exercise. By exercising every day, you will avoid muscle loss and maintain calories expense. Your body will then use more calories so that you can more easily afford to be for a social event and eat whatever you want without having a big impact on your waistline.

Small changes make a big impact

First of all, one way to stay active consists in making small changes in your daily life. You can choose many of them, there are some ideas:

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift: it is one of the most demanding activity
  • Walk/bike to commute or even take the bus: it will avoid a ride, save gas and probably
  • Used to go outside for lunch at work ? Pack your meal and walk to a park to eat ! Also, there is no doubt some colleagues are looking to do the same and are just waiting for some other people to join …
  • Taking the bus ? Stop one station before to walk a little bit
  • Go to the grocery store by walking or biking and put the stuff in your bagpack. You will avoid buying to much (and thus, reduce the chances to waste food and money) and will just save gas. Also, you will then exercise your whole body, including the core and the upper muscles.
  • Staying at the house on Sunday with the family ? Let’s have a walk in the park !

Socialize !

Being active must not be boring. If you feel bored, then, it means that you choose the wrong exercise or you have to do it in another environment. Making sure you choose the right kind of exercise is essential because this is something you will keep for life. So, try to identify what you really like and what is appealing to you: running, biking, swimming, etc.

Then, once you pick an activity, try to join group of people doing the same thing. This is a way to exchange, meet people that share the same interests. Thus, you will probably try to have fun with other and join event than can connect you with other folks that like the same activity as you do ! Find groups on social media (such as facebook, google + or meetup), search on the internet or talk to people, there is many chances you find several groups of people that share your interest for something.

Finally, exercising with other will help to stay motivated and reach your goals. When exercising alone, this is sometimes difficult to find the motivation and we are more likely to give up for whatever reason (tired, feeling no reason to continue, etc.). Being with a group give at least a good reason: if we give up, it will impact the whole group and we do not want to disturb a complete group. On the other hand, if something really bad happens, the group will provide potential helpful support ! Last but not least: being with people can help us to reach our goals: when we commit ourselves to reach a goal, this is difficult to stay motivated. Being with people that have the same objectives will increase our willingness to reach the goal and avoid any reason to give up.

Sleep !

Most people that want to adopt a healthy lifestyle focus everything on the diet and exercise. While these are two important pillars in being in a good shape, one is missing: sleeping. In fact, sleeping is as important as your diet or exercise … and has an impact on them too.

First of all, sleeping is important for the diet: at least, when you sleep, you are not eating ! While it sounds ridiculous like this, consider that when you go in party lately and hang out at night, you mostly consume calories, either by drinking (remember, alcohol beverages are a source of sugar …) or eating (who never eat one or two hot dogs when being drunk?). Also, sleeping will ensure that your body has enough time to process the food and maintain the balance between the different nutrients.

Sleeping is also important when exercising: if you exercise too much and do not sleep, you will likely destroy your body. When exercising, you put stress on your body, bones and muscles. Then, during your sleep, your muscles are recovering and getting bigger. In other words, exercising destroy your muscles and sleeping recover your body and make them grow. Also, when sleeping, your body recover and you feel less tired so that you can go for another workout later.

How much and how frequent ?

One common question is: how much should I sleep on a daily basis ? This question raises many discussions and debates and it seems that there is no common agreement on this topic. From a quick check among many people, it seems the required time is different for everybody and depends on many factors such as the time we start to sleep, the number of hours we exercise daily, etc. However, it seems that sleeping between 6 and 10 hours a day is common for most people.

It also seems that adopting a regular sleeping pattern (time we go in the bed, amount of time we sleep …) is very important but we can have some sleep deprivation from time to time, such as once a week. While several study show that having a sleep routine is really helpful, it appears that having sleep deprivation once in a while can be helpful. However, it must not be done everyday and remains an exception.

Relation between sleep and exercise

Finally, when you exercise and increase the time, you will sleeping better. You will feel you need to sleep. Many of us are not used to it and feel weird to be tired and feel the need to sleep. However, sleeping is just part of our life and the normal behavior is to be in need of sleeping every day. So, by exercising every day, you just exercise your body and fallback to a normal situation where exercising is just part of it.

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