Spring is here and it’s a great time to get moving and head outdoors. Having good cardiovascular health and being fit and strong are two of the main pillars of good health. In fact, lack of physical activity is now considered the fourth global cause of death just after high blood pressure, smoking and high blood sugar. A recent study from Kaiser Permanente’s Family Foundation has found that today’s youth spends an average of seven-and-a-half hours of screen time a day and only seven minutes outside moving. In a study published in JAMA Network Open, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic found that not exercising may be worse for your health than smoking.
If that doesn’t persuade you, exercise also has amazing health benefits. Number one is brain health. Two of my favorite brain and Alzheimer doctors, Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, authors of The Alzheimer’s Solution, argue that exercise is even more important for brain health than heart health. It is amazing for learning, memory, focus, anxiety and mood. It does this by greatly increasing blood flow to the brain and increasing endorphins and neurotransmitters such as dopamine. It is also fantastic for the immune system. Even just 10 minutes of movement can increase infection-fighting immune cells by up to 50%. Weight bearing exercise is awesome for bone health and keeping our muscles strong, specifically leg and core muscles, which helps prevent falls as we age.
Exercise can also increase energy. Think of the law of physics. An object in motion stays in motion and an object at rest stays at rest. If you are feeling exhausted and unmotivated, just get up and try a little movement for five minutes, a walk around the block or do a few stretches. See if you can get that object (yourself) in motion.
It’s important to find the exercise that works for you and that brings you joy. Walking is great. As I write this, spring and its beauty are bursting forth—trees are blooming, daffodils, trilliums and tulips are blossoming. I love smelling jasmine trees and hearing the songbirds on my walks with the dog.
Maybe for you, it’s grabbing a friend and going for a hike in Forest Park or hopping on a bike to take the Laurelhurst Park loop or the Springwater Corridor. Find what works for you. So put that screen down, boost your energy (and your mood), and let’s get moving!