Now that the nice weather is here, there is more motivation to get outdoors and participate in various activities. Exercise being one of them – whether it is walking, hiking, cycling, swimming etc.
If you are not accustomed to exercising start gently and no matter what level of exercise you do, intense or gentle, stretching is very important to prevent injury,
If you have been more of a ‘sitter”, here are some tips that can help to encourage you to be more active.
Pick a time, pick a place, make a plan, and move more! Here are some suggestions for increasing physical activity:
- Join a walking group
- Go for a brisk walk around the block after lunch
- Take a dance class in the afternoon
- Train for and participate in a run or walk for charity
- Take up a favourite sport again
- Go for a nature hike
- Take the dog for a walk or go with a friend who has a dog
- Choose the stairs rather than the elevator, if possible
If you need motivation when it comes to health benefits of exercise, some include:
- Helps prevent chronic disease and premature death
- Helps maintain independence by maintaining mobility
- Boosts fitness
- Improves body weight
- Maintains bone health
- Enhances overall mental well-being
- Anti-aging and longevity
The 2018 United States guidelines take the pressure off as far as specifics time and types of exercise that provide benefits. Basically, any little thing you do for activity helps – and it doesn’t need to be intense. Research has shown that even modest amounts of light physical activity, such as walking, cleaning, and running errands, can come with benefits.
The most important message on exercise is that the greatest benefits result from changing from none to even small amounts of physical activity. Even brief bouts of physical exercise are beneficial and there is not a specific time threshold of benefit. It is good, if possible, to combine different types of exercise; aerobic, muscle strengthening, flexibility, and balance exercises.
Once a person starts moving more, most will automatically build up to 75–150 minutes a week as time goes by depending on the persons overall health.
However, on average, adults spend over 90% of their waking hours sitting.
Today, a general lack of physical activity directly contributes to many chronic diseases and reduces life expectancy by about as much as smoking or obesity and sitting is considered a health hazard.
Just as exercise is important for our mental and physical health, so of course is the food we choose to eat. If you can, buy organic or follow the Dirty Dozen Clean Fifteen guidelines and use the Mediterranean diet as a guide post. When you start eating more nutritious foods you will feel better, have more energy and feel more motivated to exercise.
There are some primary nutrients that can also help once you start exercising.
Creatine is especially important in older adults as it enhances muscle strength and mass and it also increases bone strength.
L-carnitine can improve exercise performance and recovery.
Protein powders are important for those that do more intense exercise on a regular basis. The amino acid supplementation reduces fatigue and increases fat burning for fuel during challenging endurance exercise.
Vitamin D is important for musculoskeletal injury prevention and recovery, D is associated with reduced inflammation and pain, stronger muscles, and better athletic performance.
Omega-3 fatty acids improve recovery from strenuous exercise. Omega-3 also helps with sarcopenia – age related muscle mass loss.
Adaptogens are herbs that have a normalizing effect on the body when it comes to stress and increase stamina and endurance. These herbs are very important for endurance athletes and for anyone who experiences stress related symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, insomnia or weakened immune system. Some of these herbs include Siberian ginseng, ashwagandha, rhodiola, suma and more. There are many combined adaptogen formulas available. Talk to the knowledgeable staff at the Vitamin shop for more information.
Serrapeptase is an enzyme which has a long history as an effective anti-inflammatory treatment. Pain from acute injury is inflammation, which initially is the body’s way of protecting itself. Once the inflammation is reduced, pain is improved.
Bromelain is most effective for injuries in which there is a congestion of blood (contusion) or heavy bruising. Bromelain is a protein digestive agent and helps digest trapped blood by-products. It is more effective for sprains and strains than it is for joint pain.
Boswellia with curcumin extract combination has been shown to accelerate muscle recovery post-exercise or post physical stress. A recent study in the Journal of American College of Sports Medicine found that the combination reduced muscle injury as well as subjective muscle soreness, and maintenance of muscle strength.
Glucosamine plays an important role in tissue growth and repair. While commonly discussed for arthritic conditions, studies suggest it may also help speed up recovery time for sport injuries that involve torn cartilage and improve mobility in joint injuries
Homeopathic remedies are a ‘must have’ for any injury.
Arnica for swelling and inflammation of the soft tissue around a joint and for exercise-induced muscle soreness. Always start with Arnica for the initial trauma and then you can add Ruta or Rhus tox depending on the injury.
Rhus Tox is very effective for muscle stress, strains, sprains.
Ruta is for strained ligaments and tendons which have lost their elasticity and feel stiff. It works very well with or after Rhus Tox.
Traumacare cream can be applied topically to help alleviate the pain or tension in the muscles.
I encourage you to get outside, find an activity you enjoy and move more. Once you start, you will feel the benefits more and more over time and a strong healthy body and mind are worth working towards.
KAREN JENSEN, ND
Karen Jensen was in clinical practice for 25 years and although she is retired, she continues to write books and educate on the naturopathic approach to wellness. She is author or co-author of seven books, her most recent is Women’s Health Matters: The Influence of Gender on Disease.