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The Benefits of Exercise

:advice for students regarding the importance and necessity

of regular exercise

Exercise has many benefits. It can:

•?Increase your strength and energy

•?Lift your mood when you feel down

•?Make your body look better and more toned

•?Help you maintain a healthy weight or lose excess body fat

•?Help you sleep

•?Improve your self-esteem

•?Help keep your bones strong throughout your lifetime

•?Prevent diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease

You should try to exercise at a moderate level for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. In addition to being active everyday, it is recommended that you spend 20 to 30 minutes of your exercise time doing vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 times a week.

Starting slow and building up to this is just fine. Every little bit counts when you’re just beginning, so take time for a short walk or bike ride a few times during the day.

It is important to listen to your body’s signals, such as getting really tired, out of breath or being too sore the next day. If you are unsure, ask your health care provider, coach, or

physical education teacher.

Always, drink water before, during and after exercise.

The most important ingredient to exercise is SELF-MOTIVATION. Many teens don’t exercise because they are simply lazy. Fact. Exercise requires effort – sometimes a lot of it –

and if you do not have the willpower, it can soon become an unwanted chore.

Always remember the gains that you will get through exercising. Focus on the benefits. If you don’t feel like exercising – do it anyway, because you WILL feel good afterwards.

Be disciplined. Exercise is not just good for the body, but important for the brain.

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SCREENING OUT EXERCISE

The typical teenager can spend as much as 30 hours a week sitting in front of the television.

Scientists have discovered that our metabolism slows down when we watch TV and we burn fewer calories than if we just sat doing nothing at all. Teenagers eat a high amount of junk

food, with a very high energy content – but because teens are not burning off those calories, the energy is stored as fat. Given that very few teenagers are exercising regularly, these fat stores accumulate.

Alarmingly, many teens eat high sugar snacks while watching TV -which makes matter worse. So, when teens should be burning off the calories from snacking on junk food during the day, many tend to park in front of the screen, piling on the fat.

For many teens, if it is not the television screen keeping them from exercising – it’s the computer screen.

EXERCISE ISN’T AN OPTION

Many teens perceive exercise as “hard work”. To them, exercise means going to the gym, or doing intense physical training/ vigorous sport, and for many, memories of burning lungs and

sore muscles are enough to deter them from wanting to do any exercise at all. Because they see it as “hard work”, they find all sorts of excuses and reasons not to keep active. They

might blame the local council for not providing sufficient sporting venues in the area, or claim that there simply “isn’t enough time”.

Some even believe that exercising is just for when they want to diet and lose weight.

What they don’t seem to understand is – like eating healthily, exercise isn’t an option …it’s an absolute necessity.

EXERCISE AND DIET GO HAND IN HAND

It is often the absence of health that makes us fall ill. Exercise helps to keep us healthy. Many teens think only of today and figure if they are fine today, tomorrow and their future will be the same. But it is what we do to our bodies today that will determine the quality of life we lead tomorrow.

Watch your diet carefully – exercise and diet go hand in hand in keeping you healthy. If you are going to eat high sugar/ high fat/ high calorie food, make sure you exercise enough to

prevent the calories from turning into fat. Next to smoking, obesity is one of the world’s major health risks.

MAKE EXERCISE ENJOYABLE

If exercise is not fun for you – find ways to make it more fun for you. If you perceive it as a chore, then you will find it harder and harder to get up to do it. Having a positive mental

attitude will definitely help with motivation, so think of ways that you can incorporate the fun element into your activities. Perhaps jogging with a friend and having a nice chat along the

way might make it more pleasant for you?

Remember, the more enjoyable the exercise, the more likely you are to keep it going and to make it a regular habit.

BE MORE ACTIVE

For teens who do not exercise regularly, one of the ways to get into the swing and to start incorporating exercise into your daily life is to incorporate exercise into everyday activities.

So, for instance, raking the lawn is an activity, but doing it vigorously will count as a form of exercise. Getting off the bus one stop early, and briskly walking the rest of the way is also a way of exercising more. For those teens who are not turned on by the thought of having an exercise regime, making sure they incorporate more physical activity in their daily lives can be a start to exercising more. The best way to start is to be more active. Do stuff, rather than just sit around doing nothing.

GIVE YOURSELF A SPORTING CHANCE

Although it sounds obvious, sport is still an enjoyable way to ensure you are exercising.

There are more sports and more opportunities to play them than ever before, yet more and more teens are opting not to play any kind of sport at all.

One of the many other benefits of sport is that it teaches skills like gamesmanship and selfcontrol, and team-building. For many, playing a sport is a social and hugely enjoyable

activity.

If you are not already playing a physical sport, find one that you think will be the most fun and give it a go.

MAKE YOUR HEART BEAT FASTER

How much exercise you need depends on your genes, your diet, how much muscle and fat you carry on your frame, how fit you are, and your capacity for exercise. But whatever exercise you do, it is always a good idea to stretch and warm up beforehand. Fitness experts also recommend that you stretch and “warm down” after exercise too. This is to prevent you causing damage to your muscles and joints.

Many experts also agree that 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise should be a starting point – not an end aim.

Written by Alan David Pritchard

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If you feel that you have a health problem, you should seek the advice of your Physician or health care Practitioner.

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