weights and a healthy breakfast
March 25, 2019 | by Tracey Graber RD, CDCES

Love it or hate it, exercise is an important component of your overall health. Why is exercise so important? There are many reasons!

  • Disease Prevention

  • Risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, certain cancers, and arthritis can all be reduced with regular physical activity.

  • Emotional Health

  • Physical activity has been shown to help combat depression and anxiety. It stimulates the body to release endorphins that can increase happiness.

  • Increased Energy

  • It seems counterintuitive, but exercise increases energy levels. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues so your cardiovascular system works more efficiently. When you cardiovascular system works more efficiently, you have more energy to do your daily activities.

How Much Exercise Do I Need?

The minimum recommended amount of physical activity is 150 minutes per week. That breaks down to 30 minutes, 5 times per week. Ideally, these 30 minutes are consecutive, but they don't have to be; breaking it into smaller increments is still beneficial. Exercise doesn't have to mean going for a run or to the gym. Any activity counts and for most people, walking is the most convenient and requires very little equipment. Consider strategies for fitting more activity into your daily routine. Some ideas include getting off the bus 1-2 stops early and walking a bit further to or from work, walking during your lunch break, taking the dog for walk, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking your car further away from the store.

Fueling for Activity

What should you eat before physical activity? The answer to this question depends on your goals and the type of activity you are doing. If you are trying to lose weight and you are not spending hours in the gym every day, you don't need to worry about pre- and post-workout fuel. Instead, focus on eating well throughout the day, and be mindful of portion sizes. Have breakfast, lunch and dinner at regular times, and work out when it works best for you. If you are doing long or very intense workouts, or your goal is to gain muscle mass, eating properly before and after a workout becomes more important. The right nutrition and timing will help prevent muscle mass loss, shorten your recovery time, and give you extra energy.

Consider meeting with a registered dietitian at The Polyclinic to come up with an eating plan that will help you achieve your fitness goals. Call 206-860-2208 to schedule an appointment.