Body In Motion

The body is a beautifully complex integration of systems designed for movement. The bones, tendons, joints, ligaments, and muscles are the structural materials that rely on messages from the brain to move.  The body needs a variety of exercises to stay strong! Choose activities that work on different aspects of physical fitness such as cardiovascular endurance, balance, flexibility, and strength. Try different activities and have fun!

Exercise is Good for Your Heart

The ability to exercise at a moderate or high intensity for an extended period reflects a person’s cardiovascular endurance. Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular endurance and makes the heart, which is a muscle, get stronger. Aerobic exercise consists of any type of activity that gets the heart beating faster and makes breathing more challenging. For example: walking fast, pushing a lawnmower or baby stroller, or riding a bike.

People between 19 and 64 years old, should do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic exercise. Ride your bike, go for a brisk walk, hike, garden, or lift weights. Alternatively, people with less time and the ability to do more vigorous exercise can aim for 75 minutes per week. Some examples of vigorous activities include climbing stairs, running, and swimming.

Health Benefits of Aerobic Exercise - Exercise can lower a person’s risk of chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetesheart diseasehigh blood pressure, stroke, colon cancer, and breast cancer.

Exercise is Good for Your Brain

With improved cardiovascular health comes an increase in blood flow to the brain. During exercise, there is increased pumping of oxygen-rich blood to all our body organs and this has tremendous benefits on our brain. Aerobic exercise improves memory and thinking and lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Exercise benefits the brain by lowering stress hormones and inflammation. Studies show that exercise increases the thickness of the cerebral cortex and promotes neuroplasticity (the ability to form neural connections) even later in life.

Balance, Posture, Flexibility, and Strength

It’s important to include activities that work on balance, posture, strength, and flexibility in our exercise routine. Yoga and Pilates are great options for increasing muscular strength, balance, flexibility, and improving posture.

  • Balance is the ability to control our body’s position. Balance training improves body awareness- our sense of how our limbs are oriented in space. We use balance in everyday activities like walking, climbing steps, getting out of a bathtub, or getting into the car. Good balance and body awareness contribute to good coordination and prevent injuries and falls. Balance allows for more stable joints which helps prevent sprained ankles and knee problems.
  • Posture refers to how we position the body when standing, sitting, or laying down. Whether at rest or during motion, proper posture keeps the bones and joints aligned. With proper spine alignment, we can move easily and have better flexibility and balance. Poor posture can lead to muscle strains and unnecessary wear and tear of body structures. People with poor posture commonly experience neck and back pain. Some benefits of good posture include improvements with digestion, acid reflux, and constipation. Sitting up straight can provide a gentle boost in our mood, help us breathe better, and improve blood circulation.
  • Muscular strength is the amount of force you can exert or the amount of weight you can lift. Muscle endurance is the number of times you can move a weight without getting exhausted. Muscle endurance and strength are important for daily living activities like opening doors or lifting boxes. The benefits of muscle strength and endurance include healthy body weight, strong muscles and bones, and a lower risk of injuries. Stronger muscles may also enhance a person’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and allow for a wider variety of activities.
  • Flexibility is the ability of our joints to move freely and without pain through their full range of motion. A joint’s full range of motion depends on the mobility of the surrounding muscles, ligaments, tendons, joint capsules, and skin. Joints must move through their full range to preserve the health of the cartilage and the joint structures. Movement increases blood supply, nutrients, and synovial fluid (joint lubricant). Inactivity, injuries, and not stretching contribute to the loss of flexibility. Increasing the flexibility of muscles protects the joints and muscles from injuries and fatigue. Daily stretching helps with tight muscles and increases the mobility of the soft tissues that limit flexibility.

Stretch Your Body

Warm-up before stretching. Walk for 10 minutes before stretching or stretch after exercising. Stay still and relaxed during stretching. Make sure to breathe while stretching. Start slowly and gently by holding a stretch for about 30 seconds and gradually increase to hold the stretch for a couple of minutes. Develop a daily stretching routine to get at all the muscle groups and those being used in specific activities.