I was so excited to read a New York Times article this past week ("Losing Weight Might Require Some Serious Fun", click HERE to read it) that showed the importance of making exercise fun. The article talks about a study done with two groups of women. In the first group the women were instructed to walk to a certain destination, in which they would then be treated to lunch. The walk was for exercise sake - to burn calories, increase heart rate, etc. The second group was instructed to do the same, although their reason for walking was to listen to music and to report on the music they were listening to and their level of enjoyment.
Although the two groups walked the same amount and burned almost the same amount of calories, when they reached the destination and sat down for lunch, the women in the exercise group (who reported feeling grumpy and fatigued) ended up eating more calories and more calories from sugary drinks and desserts than the group that was walking for pleasure. On top of it, two other similar studies backed up these same findings. The less enjoyable exercise was the more people ate and the poorer their choices.
Exercise is incredibly important for so many reasons. Besides the obvious (burns calories and helps with weight loss) did you know that exercise can:
- decrease stress
- help you sleep better at night
- boost serotonin and help alleviate a bad mood and make you feel better about yourself
- increase your bone strength
- energize you
Who doesn't want that?
Pick Something You Love!
Those exercise researchers were reading my mind. I can't emphasize this enough: pick something, anything, that you love. We don't all have to go kill ourselves in boot camp class (unless that is what you love!). Right now my top exercises are pilates and talking long brisk walks with my dog and/or friends (a good motivator those friends!). Now that it is warm out I am definitely going to be doing and/or trying the following:
- bike riding
- paddle boarding (harder than you think)
- more hiking up mountains and rockier terrain
- TRX (really hard but a great strength builder)
Picking something you love will make it fun and make you motivated to stick with it. And then when you don't love it anymore, go on to something else. They all count and the possibilities are seemingly endless. Take it from someone who played tennis for years, golf, has tried yoga, the Bar Method, boot camp, Spin classes, kettle bell, kickboxing, personal training, plain old gym equipment, Zumba (I learned quickly that I am no dancer!), step class, the list goes on.
Oh, by the way, there is no more judgment when it comes to exercise. Simply pick something that interests you and try it today. When you are done with it, move on to something else. Simple as that. Studies show you will be happier in the long run.
Now I would love to hear from you. What exercises have you tried that you love? Any you have tried that you won't get near again? Let us know in the comments below!
Heather Carey, M.S.
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