With every other spam e-mail being about weight loss, a yoga studio opening up on every corner and all those TV ads for home gym equipment you would think everyone would be super fit by now. The truth is North Americans are more stationary than ever. We are all overrun by obligations of work, family and friends, too many of us are finding less and less time for physical activity—and it shows. Despite the variety and accessibility of exercise regimens today, more and more of us are getting less than twenty minutes of even moderate physical exertion per day. This is certainly in great measure a part of what has contributed to the obesity epidemic in our country.

The benefits of physical activity, whatever type or style it may be, are nevertheless immediately apparent. Being active contributes to the maintenance of healthy bones, tissue and muscles, as well as helping to prevent many serious and sometimes fatal diseases. Staying fit and engaging in regular exercise helps to reduce the risk of cancer, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. Moreover, not only will staying active help to keep the body happy, but a regular exercise routine also helps to stave off depression by boosting the release of endorphins.
As any experienced runner will tell you, running quiets the mind by making you concentrate on your breath. Most forms of exercise, because they can require focus and concentration, will bring you back to the present moment thereby lessening stress and worry. The benefits of choosing to make physical activity a part of your day will therefore bring rewards on all fronts. As stress itself has been shown to be a contributing factor to disease, helping to calm the mind will itself bring physical benefits.

Exercise is therefore really the best thing you can do for yourself. It is a key ingredient to any attempt to promote one’s overall health and well being. A 1996 study found, for instance, that low fitness levels may be as great of a risk to an individual’s health as smoking and a greater risk than obesity. Thus, while a lack of exercise and obesity are certainly connected, those who are moderately overweight but do engage in a regular fitness program can often be healthier than those who might be somewhat slimmer but are completely out of shape.

Beginning an exercise routine does of course require some preparation. Integrating cardiovascular as well as strength training practices will bring you the most immediate benefits and help to ensure long term success. Increasing the body’s physical activity will also require that you support it with a proper diet. Nutritional supplements are essential to giving the body the vitamins and minerals it needs to build muscle strength and endurance. Any type of exercise program should therefore be supported with proper nourishment for the body. Helping the body from the inside out will make workouts more efficient and productive. A healthy diet and supplemental nutrients that target muscle building and fat reduction will speed up results, while also giving your body the fuel it needs to transform itself.

The good news is that a moderate level of fitness can be achieved in only ten weeks. If you are just beginning an exercise program after being stationary for a long time, you may want to speak to your doctor about the type and intensity of activity that is right for you. Going for long walks and eventually working your way up to hiking trails is a great way to build endurance and flexibility. Walking at a brisk pace, especially along the hilly ups and downs of hiking trails, will get your heart rate up thereby increase your cardiovascular fitness. These simple first steps can really go a long way to building your body’s overall health.

If walking is a little too boring or a tad to much on the slow side of things for you, there are of course many other places to begin. Biking is a great way to stay in shape, increasing cardiovascular fitness and toning the calves, thighs and buttocks. Biking can also be great for building core strength, as cyclists use their core muscles for balance. Swimming offers another terrific alternative especially for those individuals who need to go easy on their joints. Swimming laps can be great, but if you want something a little more exciting than this, or if you are looking to join a group activity, try out a water aerobics class. While these classes have traditionally had a reputation for being only suitable for those aged 65 and above, they can actually be quite intense, certainly as intense as you make them. The resistance of the water works to give you a great workout, one which targets heart rate, range of motion, strength and endurance.

There are of course a host of other options for those ready to trade in the sofa and remote for a little huffing and puffing. Exercise should not however be thought of as a chore, because if this is your attitude it won’t be long before you are cutting out workouts and making one excuse after another for avoiding the gym. It is really essential that you chose something that actually makes you happy. Any kind of exercise can feel great. As the endorphins start pumping out and we begin to feel strong and healthy we of course feel much better than when we are bloated and stationary. That being said, if you find yourself completely dreading your sessions with your personal trainer, or whatever it is you have committed yourself to doing, you should really rethink your choice of activity.

There is simply no reason that fitness has to be something that we dread. Chose something that you enjoy doing, something that gets you exercise almost by accident, if you can. When I began learning to play tennis for instance, the exercise became entirely secondary. Focusing on my serve or my backhand, seeing myself improve week by week, made me completely forget all the running around I had to do to actually make contact with the ball. Of course, I was sore for a week or two after I’d first started, but my sense of accomplishment and joy at learning something new made it all worthwhile.

Thus, no matter what sort of activity you pick, if you are the type that hates long sessions at the gym, pick something that can allow you to focus on something besides the great physical workout you are getting. Accidental exercise is still exercise and the body isn’t going to be making the distinction! Moreover, choosing something that makes you joyful will also keep your spirits up, a surefire way to keep you on track and prevent the kind of overeating and binging that comes with feeling down.

Author's Bio: 

Dale Miller is a health, sports, fitness and nutrition enthusiast. He operates http://centurysupplements.com/ and writes a blog at http://centurysupplements.com/blog/