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Taking Care of Yourself with Exercise

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Goodbye, Blues

Aerobic exercise produces wonderful brain chemicals called endorphins. To get them in circulation, you need to break a sweat and do at least 20 minutes of aerobics or cardio exercise with an elevated heart rate. Less just isn't enough.

The flood of endorphins has been called the runner's high. Endorphins make you feel good. They lift your moods, even for hours later.

If you experience late-afternoon blues, if you battle anxiety and depression, get your endorphin lift daily or at least three times a week. If you are an emotional eater, break the pattern by doing regular cardio workouts.

Our favorite story about the endorphin lift is about a woman who was so depressed she wanted to commit suicide. But she didn't want her family to suffer because of this, so she devised a plan to kill herself. She would go out running so hard and so long that she would die. Well, she didn't die the first day, so she set out the second day, and the third, and the fourth. Soon she felt so good that she no longer wanted to die; in fact, she wanted to live. She cured her own deep depression through using those endorphins.

We find it easier to do the cardio when we enjoy the day-to-day benefits of soothed anxiety and happier moods. This activity also forestalls lots of stress eating. Other activities that can soothe stress eating before it starts are found in Simple and Effective Stress Soothers.

Exercise Your Mental Function

Thinspiration

The road to reaching your ideal body size can't be driven to in the comfort of a Cadillac or SUV! Be prepared to walk, run, and skip—in other words, to exercise—along the way.

Recent studies show that people who exercise think better. They score better on tests. They exhibit more creativity than when they don't exercise. Yes, exercise improves brain functioning.

Do you want your children to get better grades? Go shoot hoops after school with them. Ride bikes with them or take them with you to the gym.

Do you want to be more creative or to perform better at work? Get your regular dose of exercise and do it for life. Exercise increases cerebral blood flow and stimulates nerve cell growth.

Energy

If you feel sluggish and low on energy, by now you know the solution: get out and move. Just as healthy eating can correct late-afternoon tiredness, so can exercise. You could look up at the clock and discover that you just sailed through the late afternoon, and it's already time to quit work or eat dinner.

You will have energy to keep up with the kids or your spouse. You will have energy to enjoy social activities in the evening and not collapse after dinner in front of the TV—but perhaps not at first. As Sandy says, “When I haven't exercised regularly, and I start up my exercise program again with aerobics in the mornings, I come in from my walk or finish my videotape and I am exhausted! I probably start back at the level where I left off a few months before. But that feeling of tiredness is worth it—it leads to regaining the energy I want!”

Overall, Your Health

The most significant activity for enjoying good health throughout your life is exercise. Nothing else counts as much. Food choices and supplements are important, but overall, nothing beats exercise for keeping you healthy.

Exercise helps you maintain weight loss, strengthens bones, eases hormonal difficulties, strengthens your heart, keeps blood pressure in a healthy range, and keeps your digestion and elimination functioning well. It even helps prevent certain forms of cancer.

What's not to like about exercise? Most likely, the fact that you have to do it. Make it a priority. Yes, we all have those days when we just don't want to do it. Taking a day off is fine. Taking two days off is risky. It is too easy to just stop entirely.

Do whatever it takes to exercise. Do it with a friend, schedule it into your daily agenda, do it with a trainer or your spouse or children. Do it, and the rewards will speak loudly.

Remember to get in motion. That is the best way to stay in motion.



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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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