Guest post by John Turrell, Wellness Coordinator, Greater Portland Branch,YMCA of Southern Maine.
Americans follow the news. We know we need more exercise.
We know that Americans suffer from obesity, heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, joint degeneration, and broken bones from falling. We know that all these physical problems can largely be prevented and even often cured with regular, consistent exercise pursued over a lifetime.
Some Americans also suffer from several emotional difficulties, such as depression, stress, anxiety, addictions, and ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). These problems are usually caused by lower than normal levels of brain hormones and are primarily addressed by cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. It is less well known, but becoming more evident, that these emotional brain problems can be relieved by exercise.
Exercise promotes the production of hormones such as the monoamine neurotransmitters, endorphins, atrial natriuretic peptide, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). These are scientific terms for hormones that, when in short supply, can cause emotional brain problems. Aerobic and strength training can help increase the secretion of these hormones to normal levels to alleviate mental stresses and to grow brain cell circuitry to standard complexity.
The evidence for the benefits of exercise for our health is readily available when researched online. Our problem is that we often do not have the motivation and do not think we have the time for exercise. The standard advice is that we should engage in at least moderate exercise for 30 minutes five days each week.
To help solve the time and motivation problem, exercise specialists are promoting the 7-Minute Workout. This workout requires a high-intensity effort using only body weight for only seven minutes. Scientific studies have proven that this workout provides the same health benefits as a long run and a weight room workout.
The workout involves 12 exercises that are performed for 30 seconds each with a 10-second rest between exercises. They alternate between the large muscles in the upper and lower body and the core with some fast cardio mixed in. Many different exercises may be included in the workout to keep the workout from becoming too routine. A quick search online can yield a variety of exercises for the workout.
All people can find at least seven minutes in a day for a workout that will give them many healthy physical and mental benefits.
May is the most uplifting and mentally positive month of the year. The sun can now be bright and warm. We enjoy daylight for long hours. Flowers, shrubs, and trees are blooming. Flowers are beautiful and give us that positive mental feeling of hope and growth. They portend delicious fruit and vegetables.
The absolutely most beneficial exercise in New England in May is a walk to thrill in the beauty of spring. The hope for the future that May presents to us can boost all our necessary positive hormones.
Walking will promote our body’s physical need for exercise. We can use interval walking with a fast pace between flower gardens and a slower pace as we pause to take pleasure in the blooming beauty.
Taking these walks with your family or friends will amplify important social health benefits.
The 7-Minute Workout can become a year-round, very positive exercise routine, but during May in New England interval walks in the glory of spring are a must.